Monthly Archives: August 2016

Proposal for AP GIS&T

With support from the Geography Education National Implementation Project (GENIP), the American Association of Geographers (AAG) has developed a proposal for a new Advanced Placement course in Geographic Information Science and Technology (AP GIS&T). All U.S. high schools, colleges, and universities are invited to review the proposal by visiting

AP GIS&T is designed to introduce high school students to the fundamentals of geographic information science and applications of powerful geospatial technologies for spatial analysis and problem solving. Together with AP Human Geography, AP GIS&T offers an opportunity to engage students in outstanding geographic learning experiences and promote awareness of the many college and career opportunities available in the discipline. The course proposal has attracted broad support from prominent scientific and educational organizations, as well as major technology employers.

For AP GIS&T to become a reality, the AAG needs to collect attestations from 250 U.S. high schools that confirm they have the interest and capacity to offer the course. Similar assurances are needed from 100 colleges and universities that they would be willing to offer some form of credit to students who demonstrate proficiency on the AP GIS&T exam.

The AAG invites high school principals and academic department chairpersons to consider adding their institution to the list of AP GIS&T supporters by completing the brief attestation form at The AAG’s goal is to complete the attestation process by October 1, 2016.

Have questions about AP GIS&T? Contact the AAG at

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Got MOOCs?

At Esri we want to do all we can to help people think spatially and engage with powerful, easy-to-use mapping and GIS tools and data.  As part of that mission, for several years we have been creating and teaching our own MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses).  We also partner with colleagues in higher education (such as Penn State, Elmhurst College, and the University of West Florida) who have created their own GIS-related MOOCs.  Esri MOOCs are 5 to 6 weeks in length, are instructor-led but are asynchronous, feature discussion, readings, videos, short quizzes, and – my favorite part – hands-on activities that immerse you in making decisions with GIS technologies.  Many Esri MOOCs are starting soon, as detailed below.  Register today and start learning!  And for those of you who are instructors, consider how you might use these MOOCs as part of your own instruction.

The starting point for all Esri MOOCs is: Here is a video describing our MOOC program and another one filmed at the Esri UC.

Below is a summary of upcoming courses with links to their descriptions for remainder of 2016 and those planned for 2017.

September 7 – October 18, 2016:  Earth Imagery at Work:  Digital images of earth’s surface produced by remote sensing are the basis of modern mapping. They are also used to create valuable information products across a spectrum of industries. This free online course is for everyone who is interested in applications of earth imagery to increase productivity, save money, protect the environment, and even save lives.

September 7 – October 18, 2016:  The Location Advantage:  Location analytics uses the locational component of business data to improve users’ understanding of their market, customers, and business processes. Organizations throughout the world use location analytics to make better decisions and gain a competitive advantage.

November 9 – December 20, 2016:  Going Places with Spatial Analysis:   This course is for people who know something about data analysis and want to learn how the special capabilities of spatial data analysis provides deeper understanding. You’ll get free access to the full analytical capabilities of ArcGIS Online, Esri’s cloud-based GIS platform.

February 1 – February 28, 2017: Do-It-Yourself Geo Apps:  You don’t have to be a software developer to build valuable geo-enabled apps that make your communities smarter and businesses more successful. This course shows how to combine location and narrative in one application to better communicate and broadcast your story, create custom web applications that solve problems in your community, and build powerful native applications for iOS and Android devices without touching a piece of code. If you are a developer, you’ll be interested in Esri’s APIs, SDKs, and the buzzing GeoDev community.

February 1 – March 14, 2017: Earth Imagery at Work.

April 12 – May 23, 2017: Going Places with Spatial Analysis.

April 12 – May 23, 2017: The Location Advantage.

Esri MOOCs - free, engaging, online courses.

Esri MOOCs – free, engaging, rigorous, online courses.


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Fun with GIS 202: Roots & Shoots

Jane Goodall. The name conjures images of science, documentaries, jungles, crowded auditoriums, and visions for a better world. Jane’s work and passion have captured minds and hearts across the globe. For 25 years, young people have engaged in community projects through her “Roots & Shoots” organization, learning that they can make a difference, at home and across the globe.

Roots & Shoots makes it easy to start, with a 4-step formula: Get engaged, make a map, take action, and celebrate. This year, Roots & Shoots added ArcGIS Online to the mapping alternatives, so now projects can combine digital mapping, collaboration, and analysis. Is it powerful? See the video featuring teachers and students of the Math, Science, & Technology Magnet Academy of Roosevelt High School (Los Angeles, CA). See also the youth leader blog on the Jane Goodall Institute page; leaders from across USA visited Esri and learned about adding ArcGIS Online in their work and outreach.

Projects are not just the most powerful way for people to learn GIS. They are also the best way for people to see that they can make a difference in the world, no matter their age. Roots & Shoots projects epitomize “service” — something done for the benefit of another. Roots and shoots help plants spread out and grow, and Roots & Shoots projects can allow young people to shape their world and their future.

Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri education manager

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Start your engines! Analyzing car race data in ArcGIS Online

Analyzing car race data in ArcGIS Online

Analyzing car race data in ArcGIS Online!

One of my colleagues at Esri has a hobby that is quite exciting – she races cars.  Timing is everything.  During her first race at “nationals”, she won by 9 thousands (.009) of a second!  But besides timing, a wide variety of other data are collected during each race.  These data can be mapped in ArcGIS Online and used in education to foster spatial thinking in geography, physics, mathematics, and other disciplines.  For her recent race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, where she was driving a Mitsubishi Evolution Lancer, I created a web map based on the data she generously provided.   Use the map with the following guiding questions, or make up your questions.   Investigate the data while fostering spatial thinking using this engaging topic!  Be sure to show your students this video of the first time my colleague drove this type of car and a more recent video here (but be sure to hold on while watching!).

Here is the race car!  A Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.

Here is the race car! A Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.

Each racing event uses a custom course, which is marked off with pylon cones.  What do you notice about the spatial pattern of this course?  How many sharp curves did it include?  Go to the bookmark “Best Scale”.  Use the measure tool and measure the distance that the car drove between the start and finish line using the “Track of Race Car” layer as your guide when measuring.  Compare that distance against the straight line distance between the two locations.

Turn on the other map layers and open their tables to investigate the following questions:

Examine the Speed MPH layer.  What was the speed achieved around the first curve?  Where did the vehicle achieve its maximum speed?  What is the relationship of speed to the curvature of the track?  What was the speed across the finish line?

Turn on the acceleration layer.  What is the lateral acceleration around the first curve?  What was the range of acceleration around the race course?  What is the relationship of acceleration to speed?  Examine the oil pressure PSI layer.  What is the relationship of the oil pressure to speed?  Why?

Each of the data points was resampled for a reading every 0.12 seconds. For additional math and physics integration, measure the distance between two adjacent data points in feet or meters, determine how long it took my colleague to cover that distance, and calculate speed in kph or mph based on your measurements.

Change the style of one of your map layers to ‘gear.’  What gear was the driver in most of the time?  Why do you suppose this was the case?

Examine the steering wheel angle layer.  The Steering_P is given in angles from 0 (due north) with positive numbers to the right (+90=sharp right turn) and negative numbers to the left (-270=sharp left turn).  What is the relationship of the steering wheel direction to the curves?  From the steering wheel position, can you determine where the quick left-and-right motions occurred, indicating where a slalom was set up and requiring the driver to go back and forth around cones?  Run statistics on the attribute Steering_P and you will see the range, and that the average (just over the value of 1) is just about “straight ahead”.  In other words, all of the curves average out!  Try using one of the rotational symbols in ArcGIS Online to visualize the direction of the steering wheel more effectively.

What other variables and tools could you use to analyze the data using ArcGIS Online?  Try investigating the g-force (vector), braking velocity, and lateral force.  Try some of the analysis tools in ArcGIS Online to determine hot spots of understeer angle or other variables.  Have fun and think spatially!

Car Race Data Mapped in ArcGIS Online

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Teaching and Learning about the Olympics using ArcGIS Online

ArcGIS Online and story maps make it easy to explore geographic themes using the Rio Summer Olympic Games.  This story map entitled “Ready or Not, Let the Games Begin” explores the socioeconomic, environmental, and other challenges of holding the games in Brazil, the geographic setting for the Games, the displaced residents, and much more.   It uses the new Cascade story map app.

Another rich source of content is this story map about French athletes entitled “Equipe de France Olympique 2016“.  This map from our colleagues at Esri France uses the Shortlist story map app.

How much of the human-built landscape changes for an Olympics event?  This 2016 Summer Olympic Games story map focuses on the stadiums and other facilities in Rio de Janeiro.  This map of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Venues allows for a comparison between a winter event and a summer event (such as Rio).    This Swipe story map of Sochi uses imagery to show how construction progresses for 11 stadiums built for the Olympics that year.

This map and story focuses on the Top 21 Olympics Scandals of All Time, providing a fascinating and at times disturbing look at some Olympics history.

One of my personal favorite maps in ArcGIS Online about the Olympics is this one depicting the National Anthems of each participating country.

Looking for something unusual to spark conversation in your classroom?  Try this Gastner-Newman cartogram of Olympics medals by country.  There are more to be explored; start here and use the past and present Olympics to foster critical and spatial thinking using ArcGIS Online!

A few of the many maps available in ArcGIS Online to teach and learn about the Olympics.

A few of the many maps available in ArcGIS Online to teach and learn about the Olympics.

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Map and Guide to Geography Programs for 2015-2016 Now Available from AAG

The 2015-2016 edition of the AAG Guide to Geography Programs in the Americas is available freely online from our good friends and colleagues at the American Association of Geographers.

Once again, the guide includes an interactive map of geography programs, which allows users to filter programs by province/state, country, degree types, program specialties, and more.  This guide was created using Esri web application tools in ArcGIS Online.

On the map, you can click on the diploma icon to select your desired degree level, or use the Africa icon (regional specialty) and/or the magnifying glass (field of interest) to filter academic departments that match your interests.  Your searches are automatically saved as map layers that can be toggled on or off.  Data can be exported for later use.

We salute the AAG for making the guide and map such a useful resource for the entire community!

Interactive map accompanying the AAG Guide to Geography Programs in the Americas

Interactive map accompanying the AAG Guide to Geography Programs in the Americas.

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