Tag Archives: Curriculum

Fun with GIS 205: Good Soil Yields Good Learning

Among the US 50 states, Nebraska ranks #37 in population, with about 1.9 million, or not quite 0.6%. But knowing about US population distribution and looking at the USK12GIS map, Nebraska stands out, with the sixth highest rate of “ArcGIS Online ConnectED Orgs per 100 schools.” How did this happen? Persons and policies matter, certainly, but so does timing, working along multiple fronts, and geography — matters of local significance.

Visionary educators had presented to colleagues about the potential of GIS in Nebraska since before 2000, but saw little yield before 2013. Then, longtime geography teacher Harris Payne became the state social studies coordinator, and collaborations with many (including Geography Alliance leader Randy Bertolas, GIS instructor Leslie Rawlings, and state GIS coordinator Nathan Watermeier) lit rockets. A year-long push yielded a K12 state license for Esri software. Payne participated in Esri’s T3G Institute for educators, immediately on the heels of Esri launching its ConnectED effort (providing free ArcGIS Online to any US K12 school). And the Nebraska Environmental Trust provided a 3-year grant supporting summer workshops for “Educating the Next Generation of Nebraskans About Soil Conservation Using the Power of GIS.”

Numerous teacher workshops later, the impact is clear. Concerned about its place in the world’s breadbasket, Nebraska recognizes the need for soil conservation. Today’s learners require a holistic understanding to avoid “treating the soil like dirt,” in Payne’s words. Two-day workshops involved instruction about soil, gathering data, and building Story Maps with which to teach. But the learning grew into other fields: career guidance, mapping 9-1-1 calls, fire station coverage and travel time, restaurant maps, daily traffic and that after “Big Red football games,” diseases, tourism, personal history, and beyond. “It’s not about clicking but about improving the community,” said Payne.

GIS can make its way into school instruction when savvy leaders identify good opportunities. Just as New Hampshire spread GIS through a coalition of tech-savvy leaders in multiple arenas, and Arkansas spread GIS through its tech-based service learning, and Virginia spread GIS through statewide and district efforts, Nebraska saw that fertile ground was its fertile ground. When educators and influencers identify missions of local importance, the synergy offered by the power and flexibility of GIS yields great results.

Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Education Manager

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New SpatiaLABS on Search and Rescue Now Available

Four new SpatiaLABS are now available, focused on teaching spatial thinking and analysis through a compelling topic–search and rescue–and a compelling location–a national park.  To access the labs, use this story map, click on Social Sciences, and see the four listed on the left side.  They are also viewable on the map, located in Yosemite National Park.  All are authored by Paul Doherty, who has had a fascinating career with roles ranging from GIS consultant at Eagle Technology to park ranger for the National Park Service to disaster response lead at Esri.

In the first of these four labs, you will use search and rescue incident locations to create an interactive web map and web mapping application in ArcGIS Online to explore the distribution of incidents in Yosemite National Park.  In the second lab, you will open a map project in ArcGIS Pro and create assignment maps for the emergency search operations.  In the third lab, you will map where searchers have been deployed and what they have found.  In the fourth lab, you will create a “clue log” that can be edited anywhere and with any device.

SpatiaLABS are standalone activities designed to promote spatial reasoning and analysis skills. Covering a wide variety of subject matter useful in standard computer-lab sessions and longer term projects, SpatiaLABS illuminate relationships, patterns and complexities while answering provocative questions such as, “How might visibility have affected political boundaries in ancient civilizations?” or “Is there a connection between ethnicity and exposure to industrial toxins?” or “How worried should I be about the stagnant pond a quarter mile away?”

SpatiaLABS contain instructional materials in Microsoft Word and other common formats so that you can easily add self-assessment questions, adjust the context for the analysis, rework the lab to use local data, or otherwise customize them to suit your non-commercial needs.  Check out these new labs and the others in the collection today!

Some of the compelling maps and data you will analyze in the Search and Rescue SpatiaLABS.

Some of the compelling maps and data you will analyze in the Search and Rescue SpatiaLABS.

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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 www.apgist.org.

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 www.apgist.org. The AAG’s goal is to complete the attestation process by October 1, 2016.

Have questions about AP GIS&T? Contact the AAG at ap_gist@aag.org.

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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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Fun with GIS 201: Instructional Guide for the ArcGIS Book

The ArcGIS Book offers “10 Big Ideas” about mapping, in hardcopy, free downloadable PDF, and free online in multiple languages. Equal parts coffee table book, text book, and workbook, some educators began teaching with it immediately after its release at Esri’s 2015 User Conference. It worked well having students reading on one screen (even a phone) and mapping on another.

The Instructional Guide for The ArcGIS Book now makes it even easier for educators to leverage the original. The Instructional Guide works like an outrigger, matching the concepts and technology of each section, speeding solid comprehension thru carefully designed activities. Linked movies launch chapters with an easy hook. Step-by-step guidance thru a bank of scenarios ushers even novices steadily into the power and flexibility of online mapping, via generic tools in browsers, browser-based apps, and mobile apps. End-of-chapter tasks summarize the fundamental ideas and skills. Many activities can be done without logging in, but many valuable ones require the powers of an ArcGIS Online organization account, and the Guide shows how educators in different situations can acquire such an account.

Coupled with the original volume, the Instructional Guide for The ArcGIS Book is a terrific resource for educators who want to see and employ true GIS power with online tools. And, especially for educators in Career/Technology Education (CTE) programs, or anyone who wants to see STEM in GIS, this demonstrates powerfully how online GIS can be engaged in day-to-day scenarios relevant to many different industries.

Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Schools Program Manager

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Fun with GIS 199: GeoInquiries

A good map informs, a powerful map provokes. A good instructional activity teaches, and a powerful one fosters questions and investigation. Byte by byte, “GeoInquiries” are changing instruction.

Esri Education Manager Tom Baker has been leading teams of authors to produce short, content-based lessons which help teachers address key content, using maps, in an inquiry-based manner, which builds comfort with the power of online GIS. Requiring no great technical background, nor download or install, nor even login, GeoInquiries help teachers engage students in not just seeing but interacting with the facts, patterns, and relationships of our world, in ways at once historical, scientific, mathematical, and of course geographic.

Now 75 bite-sized activities get used by teachers in one-computer classrooms, and in 1:1 settings. Teachers can demonstrate skills, and students can investigate even on their own, weaving content and context in their own unique way. Geoinquiries form a blazed trail through standard content, but support diversion, investigation, integration, and ever deeper learning, about the content, tools for investigating, and even the nature of knowledge.

As summer launches professional development for teachers everywhere, check out GeoInquiries as a way to shine new lights on classroom content. See the video and check out the collection!

Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Education Manager

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Using GeoTech Clubs in Geomentoring

At the recent annual meeting of the American Association of Geographers, several of us had a conversation focused on running GeoTech Clubs–clubs focused on geotechnologies, mapping, fieldwork, and related topics, at schools.  Over the past 15 years, I have had the opportunity to run these types of clubs in elementary, middle, and high schools, and have participated in career panel presentations sponsored by geography, environmental, and GIS clubs at universities as well. With the launch of the GeoMentors program last year, I think the time has come to revisit this topic.  As an update to what I wrote a few years ago with a video I created at the same time, I would like to invite the community to discuss your experiences below with the club approach to promoting GIS at educational institutions.

Flyer promoting a GeoTech Club at a school.

Flyer promoting a GeoTech Club at a school.

An after-school club such as GeoTech provides an excellent way for students to engage in tools and experiences.  A club environment provides the freedom to experiment with different approaches and techniques.  I encourage anyone thinking of starting and running a club to make the activities fun and engaging.  I distribute maps, satellite images, and other mapping related items.  Choose a wide variety of topics and scales, including current events and relevant 21st Century topics such as energy, water, population change, natural hazards, open space trails, local businesses, weather, and the environment using GIS.

Bring in real job ads requiring GIS skills in the local area and discuss career decisions and work environments.  Make sure the club gets students out into the field, even if the field is just the school campus, gathering data about litter, trees and shrubs, social zones, cell phone reception, and infrastructure using GPS receivers and smartphone apps.  Map your field collected data in ArcGIS Online. Ask students what they are interested in examining.   After the students get familiar with some mapping tools, let the students pursue an independent project of their own choosing.  One student I had in a GeoTech Club created an ArcGIS Online map with data points and photographs to support the field trip the Earth Science teacher was conducting. Another made a map-based project comparing all of the local lunch spots that students in his school frequented. Another made a map with all of the major league baseball stadiums complete with team logos used as point symbols.

Since there is so much competition for students’ time after school, make sure that you not only advertise the club via school newsletters, announcements, and web sites, but also (1) Encourage the students in the club to tell and bring their friends, (2)  Ensure that the club is well supported by the school’s teachers and administrators, and (3) Build connections between what you are doing in the club to the school’s focus areas.

Career academies are an important part of the high school housing the GeoTech Club I facilitated most recently.  The themes of geotechnologies, inquiry, and critical thinking have become an important part of the school’s STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) academy and soon in their Business and Global Studies academy.  The STEM academy’s pathway on computer technology and its “Earth, Energy, and the Environment” theme were particularly well aligned with the GeoTech Club.

I would also like to see examples where students are directing the activities of their own club.  A GeoTech Club is also an excellent way for you to bring in other geomentors in your community to give presentations and lead activities.

If you are already running a GeoTech Club at a school, what activities do you include in it?  If you are not running such a club, I encourage you to look into it, or encourage others to do so.

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Getting to Know ArcGIS Pro: Book Review

Thanks to my colleagues at Esri Press, I had the opportunity to review the upcoming book Getting To Know ArcGIS Pro.  The book, published in March 2016, was written by Michael Law and Amy Collins, and an accompanying site includes trial software and all the data you need for the exercises.  I believe it is a valuable resource for beginning and advanced GIS professionals, instructors, students, and anyone who wants to learn about this important and forward-thinking component of the ArcGIS platform.

There is a reason for the success that the “Getting To Know” series from Esri Press has had all these years, including the Getting to Know ArcGIS series and the GIS Tutorial series:  Working through the exercises in these books, I believe, is the fastest way to be successful with Esri ArcGIS Pro technology. Last year, my colleague Dr Pinde Fu wrote Getting to Know WebGISwhich has already become a trusted resource for teaching and learning about web and mobile maps and apps.  In this tradition, Getting to Know ArcGIS Pro helps new and existing GIS users solve problems in a variety of fields and scales, but it also helps them understand why to use specific tools, and to be able to select the most appropriate tools and parameters for specific tasks.  These tools are not taught in a vacuum or in rote fashion from one function to another, but are taught as a connected and logical series of workflows that emulate what is done in today’s workplaces.

Moreover, this book helps people understand GIS as a platform and a system of engagement, as it is increasingly called nowadays.  In my travels to higher education institutions over the past two years, faculty and students have been asking me about resources that will help them to use ArcGIS Pro.  They know that Pro represents the “next generation” in desktop-and-web integrated GIS technology. This book, along with Tripp Corbin’s Learning ArcGIS Pro book that I reviewed recently, and web and instructor-led webinars and courses from Esri are excellent resources to get started.

The book is organized into 10 chapters, building from basic terminology and functionality to calculating statistics, extracting data, creating and modifying features, geocoding, analyzing spatial and temporal patterns, and creating 3D scenes.  I was pleased to see that the book contains major sections devoted to crowdsourcing, or citizen science, including field data collection, as well as presenting a project with appropriate symbology and sharing that project online. An index by task, sidebars, and helpful font and color choices are thoughtful touches for the busy person working through this book.

As an educator, I found the exercises to be interesting and engaging, ranging from analyzing recent earthquakes around the world, conflicts in Sudan, health data in Illinois, social services in Los Angeles, crime in a metropolitan area, to site suitability for a vineyard in California, and much more.

I am interested in hearing your thoughts below to how you are using this book and ArcGIS Pro in your workplace.

Getting to Know ArcGIS Pro book from Esri Press

Getting to Know ArcGIS Pro book from Esri Press.

Example exercise in the Getting to Know ArcGIS Pro book:  Suitability analysis.

Example exercise in the Getting to Know ArcGIS Pro book: Suitability analysis on a vineyard.

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New Book: Learning ArcGIS Pro

A new book from Tripp Corbin entitled Learning ArcGIS Pro focuses on Esri’s newest desktop application for visualizing, maintaining, and analyzing data.  A GIS professional with a great passion for learning, Tripp makes learning this new application straightforward and compelling.   Tripp is the CEO and a cofounder of eGIS Associates, Inc., and has over 20 years of surveying, mapping, and GIS-related experience.  The book comes with a set of data that you download so you can get started using real data in ArcGIS Pro, right away.  The book is also available as a Kindle e-book from Amazon and a PDF e-book from Packt Publishing.

ArcGIS Pro is Esri’s newest desktop GIS application with powerful tools for visualizing, maintaining, and analyzing data. ArcGIS Pro makes use of the modern ribbon interface and 64-bit processing to increase the speed and efficiency of using GIS. It allows users to create amazing maps in both 2D and 3D quickly and easily.

This book takes you from software installation to performing geospatial analysis. You will start by learning how to download and install the software, then after learning the interface, you create a new GIS Project, learn how to construct 2D and 3D maps including layers, symbology, and labeling. Next, you learn how to access and use analysis tools to answer real-world questions.  Lastly, you will learn how processes can be automated and standardized in ArcGIS Pro using Tasks, Models, and Python Scripts.

I like the way Tripp has organized his book:  His 300 pages and 11 chapters are full of hands-on exercises.  Yes, an answer key is included!  For key reasons to consider using ArcGIS Pro in education, see my colleague Brendan O’Neill’s post.  Consider using this resource and I look forward to your feedback below.

Learning ArcGIS Pro - New book from Tripp Corbin

Learning ArcGIS Pro – New book from Tripp Corbin.

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Analyzing Real-Time Weather and Maps

A new activity based on ArcGIS Online invites students to analyze real-time weather data. I wrote the activity for university students but upper secondary students with some GIS background could use it as well, particularly if beforehand they work through the How’s the Weather? Geoinquiry.

Using real-time weather feeds from NOAA, the activity asks students to note the relationships between pressure, temperature, wind speed, wind direction, proximity to coasts, latitude, and elevation.  Students also create interpolated surfaces from the real time weather station data, classify and symbolize data in a number of ways, and predict upcoming weather at specific locations.  ArcGIS Online enables students to quickly and easily analyze spatial data such as this.  Weather is an engaging topic, and the activity connects to geography, earth science, and meteorology courses and curricula, and in the process, fosters skills in critical thinking, GIS, spatial analysis, and spatial data.

Analyzing current weather data and maps in ArcGIS Online.

Analyzing current weather data and maps in ArcGIS Online.

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