Monthly Archives: October 2008

Fun With GIS, Using AEJEE: #6, Watching the Weather

“Everybody loves talking about the weather but nobody does anything about it!” But with ArcExplorer Java Edition for Education (AEJEE), ESRI’s free, downloadable, dual platform (Win/Mac), lightweight GIS tool, you can map it. (This is a replay of a popular blog item from last spring.) Thanks to folks at NOAA, NWS, and PASDA (Pennsylvania State Data Access), it’s very easy to create and save a project that presents a “quick and dirty” view of the atmosphere.

Open an empty AEJEE map window, choose to add data from the Internet (as described in the Lesson 5 of the built-in AEJEE Tutorial), and navigate to the PASDA data portal ( Add the “Latest Infrared Satellite” for the bottom layer, add the “Latest Radar” for the top layer, and set the radar layer at 75% transparent. Save the project. Then, any time you re-open the project while connected to the Internet, you’ll see the latest conditions.

- Charlie Fitzpatrick, ESRI Education Manager

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Hannibal, New York ISD – Going Spatial!

Resources for GIS,  thinking spatially, Geotech careers,  web links, and data abound at this geospatial one stop for K-12!  Looking for a quick reference to excellent resources?  Check out Going Spatial – Hannibal’s Spatial Literacy Project.


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Using ArcGIS Online For Base Imagery For Field Projects

Have you ever wanted to quickly obtain base data for your GIS project without having to search, download, uncompress, reformat, clip, and project it? ESRI’s resource center for ArcGIS Online Services ( provides a way to quickly access a large variety of high quality content directly from an ArcMap project without the need for the many steps sometimes required when working with data. ArcGIS Online is a collection of base maps, imagery, and overlays. Standard services are available at no cost to ArcGIS users for internal or noncommercial external use (see the licensing summary at the link above). Subscription services provide access to even more data. ArcGIS Desktop users will find ArcMap documents (.mxd files), layers (.lyr files), and ArcGlobe projects (.3dd files). ArcGIS Explorer users can choose from Explorer documents (.nmf files) along with projects, layers, tasks, and results. We will have more to discuss about ArcGIS Online resources in the future; let’s start with a simple yet powerful example.

Let’s say that you have field data and coordinates that you want to map and analyze with base data. In my case, I uploaded tracks, waypoints, and field notes after investigating an area in western Colorado where a natural gas pipeline stretches over a mountain pass that is susceptible to landslides. After adding my data into ArcMap, I used the File menu to select “Add Data From Resource Center.” I was placed in the ArcGIS Desktop content area, and I chose the world imagery layer. This layer includes satellite imagery for the world and satellite and aerial imagery for the USA in a cached ArcGIS Server map service, so it is quick to draw. The resulting base map is just what I wanted:

In the same way, I then added the world physical map layer, which includes topographic maps at 1:1,000,000 scale for the world and 1:24,000 scale for the USA. Now I had a high-resolution topographic map for my area of study, as shown below:
Use ArcGIS Online to enhance your GIS projects!

- Joseph Kerski, ESRI Education Manager

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Darrel Hess Community College Geography Scholarship

Deadline: December 31, annually

The Association of American Geographers is pleased to announce a national scholarship program for community college students. Two $1,000 scholarships will be awarded to students from community colleges, junior colleges, city colleges, or similar two-year educational institutions who will be transferring as geography majors to four year colleges and universities. These scholarships are funded by Darrel Hess, coauthor of the textbook Physical Geography: A Landscape Appreciation by McKnight and Hess, published by Prentice Hall.

The award consists of a scholarship to be used for any educational expenses in the amount of $1,000 and a formal certificate of merit. The formal announcement of the award will take place at the annual meeting of the AAG.

Eligibility: You are eligible to apply if you are a student currently enrolled at a US community college, junior college, city college, or similar two-year educational institution at the time you submit your application. You must also have completed at least two transfer courses in geography and plan to transfer to a four-year institution as a geography major during the coming academic year.

Criteria: Selection will be based on the overall quality of the application, scholastic excellence and academic promise. Financial need will also be considered. The selection committee will observe the purposes and preferences noted above when evaluating proposals. Two awards of $1,000 will be made annually. Awards may not be made in years when funds are insufficient or proposals are not suitable.

Completed applications consist of the following materials:
1. One-page scholarship application. You may download the form here:
2. A two page personal statement describing the applicant’s academic and personal background, as well as the applicant’s academic goals and interest in pursuing geography as a major at a baccalaureate institution.
3. Two letters of recommendation from college instructors. If submitted digitally, these letters should be sent from the instructor’s own email address with the subject line as follows: “AAG Hess Scholarship – Student Name.” If submitted in hard copy, recommenders are asked to provide letters in sealed envelopes with their signature across the flap.
4. A copy of the applicant’s current unofficial transcripts. Finalists may be asked to submit official transcripts before the screening committee makes its final decision.

Digital submissions are encouraged. Please submit the materials in an email attachment to with AAG Hess Scholarship as the subject line. Alternately, hard copies of applications can be sent to Association of American Geographers, attn: AAG Hess Scholarship, 1710 Sixteenth Street NW, Washington, DC 20009-3198. Final notifications are expected early-to-mid summer of 2006.

Reports and Acknowledgment: Please acknowledge support to the AAG Hess Scholarship in any presentations and publications.

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2nd Call: Student Paper Competition, AAG Cyberinfrastructure Specialty Group

STUDENT PAPER MERIT COMPETITION: AAG Cyberinfrastructure Specialty Group


DESCRIPTION OF AWARD: The Cyberinfrastructure Specialty Group (CISG) is pleased to announce their inaugural student paper award competition at the 2009 AAG Annual Meeting in Las Vegas. Students pursuing M.S. or Ph.D. degrees are eligible and paper topics may cover any aspect of cyberinfrastructure research, including but not limited to: the semantic web (including ontologies), grid computing, middleware, parallel and distributed GIS, high-performance computing, distributed spatial analysis, collaborative knowledge sharing and decision-making, sensor networks, virtual organizations, and more. The student must be the sole or first author of the paper and deliver an oral presentation in the CISG student paper competition session. The student must also submit a 1500-word extended abstract of the project that follows the attached guidelines. The student selected for this award will receive membership dues for the AAG and the CISG for the following year, a certificate, and recognition in the CISG and AAG newsletters. The award recipient must be a member of the AAG and of the CISG and must not have graduated at the time the oral presentation is made.

The student must must first register individually for the AAG annual meeting and submit a 250-word AAG paper abstract. Please follow the instructions at
registration.htm . Upon registration you will be given a participant identification number (PIN).

Dr. Dawn Wright, Interim Chair of CISG Award Committee Department of Geosciences Oregon State University

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2009 ESRI Education User Conference proposal extension

The deadline for submitting proposals to the 2009 ESRI Education User Conference has been extended to Nov.14, 2008. The 2009 ESRI Education user Conference will be July 11-14, 2009, in San Diego (at a new site — the brand new Hilton Bayfront).

Submit your proposal! Go to
and click the “Submit an Abstract” link at right.

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Fun With GIS, Using AEJEE: #5, Tracking Invasive Species

In our increasingly interconnected world, invasive species can be a huge issue. With proper data, you can map these species easily using ArcExplorer Java Edition for Education (AEJEE), ESRI’s free, downloadable, dual platform (Win/Mac), lightweight GIS tool. This week’s episode of “Fun With GIS” demonstrates the power of GIS for serious analysis.

I went to the US National Atlas, chose “Raw Data Download”, chose the “Biology” series, and chose the “Invasive Species – Zebra Mussel Distribution” data set. This is a point file, so it was a quick process to download and unzip. I opened AEJEE and chose the “us48elev_hd.axl” project, which provides shaded relief and major rivers and lakes. I added the Zebra Mussel data and set the symbol as red dots with a black border, then hid the other legend items.

Wow! These little guys are making some serious trouble. But are they expanding their range? I looked in the Zebra Mussel attribute table and saw that the points all carried a “Year” field. Aha! A fundamental power of GIS is to highlight particular features with a query, which may emphasize a geographic pattern.

The data set ranged from 1988-2008. I built a statement of “Year > 2005″ to highlight just the latest records. The map below shows the results.

GIS allows users to integrate disparate data sets, ask powerful analytical questions of an infinitely varied nature, and see the spatial pattern of the results. It’s up to us to interpret the information and act on the data, but the better we understand the patterns and relationships, the better we can make critical decisions.

- Charlie Fitzpatrick, ESRI Education Manager

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Are We There Yet? Analyzing Transportation with GIS

A new investigation in the ArcLessons ( library invites the investigation of transportation networks. Entitled “On the Road Again—Transportation Analysis in the USA,”
(, this 70-question lesson and spatial data are used within ArcGIS software to study the spatial pattern of transportation in the USA. The data source for this lesson is the wonderful National Transportation Atlas Database:

From ancient times, roadways have altered the mobility of everything from individuals, goods, services, warfare, to disease. American roadways, formalized with the US Highway system (1920s) and the Interstate Highway System (1950s), became “the world’s largest public works project” and “has…reshaped the American landscape and way of life.” –U.S. News & World Report.

Highways are a source of employment for millions on a daily basis, from engineers, truck stop attendants, and construction workers to transportation GIS analysts. Highways have adversely affected urban neighborhoods, affect water quality in local streams, and have a daily impact on the national economy. They have been loved and hated. They are a fundamental part of the national psyche.

Highways were placed where they are because of physical geography, including mountain ranges, passes, swamps, and rivers, and cultural geography (urban areas, commercial corridors, and airports). Their traffic volume is affected by other transportation networks, urban centers, commuting patterns, seasons, and even evacuations during natural disasters. Therefore, spatial analysis within a GIS environment is an excellent way to understand transportation.

In the lesson, students find out how the highways are numbered. They discover that while Interstate 80 is the longest interstate highway, even longer is the longest US Highway, US 20, at 2,940 miles, visible by the yellow line on the map below.

Students examine traffic volumes to assess the impact of urban areas, discover the busiest and widest highways, consider why I-80 through the Great Plains is busier than I-70, and investigate traffic in their own community.
Explore this lesson and data and deepen your understanding of highways, waterways, and railroads, and how GIS might be used to investigate networks.

- Joseph Kerski, ESRI Education Manager

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2009 ESRI Education User Conference

After having had to wander across the summertime for the last decade,
the ESRI Education User Conference and International User Conference
have settled into mid-July from 2009 onward. Now’s the time to submit
your proposals for the next conference, July 11-14, 2009.

Then click the “Submit an abstract” link on the right. Proposals are due
Friday Oct 17!

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ESRI's US Community Atlas

Since the 1999-2000 school year, ESRI has hosted the U.S. Community Atlas as a place for schools and youth groups to post a profile about their community. Groups that complete the project successfully are rewarded with a grant of software and public display of their project. All the completed projects are available for display and comparison, so that viewers can look for patterns across, say, small schools, 7th grade viewpoints, or youth groups along the coast versus their landlocked counterparts.

The profiles must consist of 10-20 maps, no more than half as many pictures as maps (it’s an atlas, not a photo album), and 1000-2500 words, all built as a self-contained website. The project can fit one of three general classes: a broad profile, a historical analysis, or a conservation story. Within that framework, groups have broad flexibility.

No special tools are required to produce a Community Atlas project. Groups can construct the maps with free tools like ArcExplorer Java Edition for Education (AEJEE) or ArcGIS Explorer, or they can use ArcView software, either full software from a school license or timeout software from an ESRI curricular package such as the Our World GIS Education series. Groups can do multiple projects per year and earn various rewards of software or instructional materials.

The Community Atlas website provides full information online, plus model project examples, templates, tutorials, and links to resources on HTML, map making, and data. The entire Community Atlas “instruction and model project set” can be downloaded and run locally so users can have high speed exploration. No special application process is required — groups just look at the instructions, develop their project, and submit it for approval. Deadline is May 22, 2009. Check it out at

- Charlie Fitzpatrick, ESRI Education Manager

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