Teach the Earth > Geomorphology > Teaching Activities > Fluvial Geomorphology of the Upper Yellowstone River Drainage Basin: Using Google Earth to Analyze Rivers

Fluvial Geomorphology of the Upper Yellowstone River Drainage Basin: Using Google Earth to Analyze Rivers

Lindley Hanson
Salem State College
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This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Collection

Resources in this top level collection a) must have scored Exemplary or Very Good in all five review categories, and must also rate as “Exemplary” in at least three of the five categories. The five categories included in the peer review process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This activity has benefited from input from faculty educators beyond the author through a review and suggestion process. This review took place as a part of a faculty professional development workshop where groups of faculty reviewed each others' activities and offered feedback and ideas for improvements. To learn more about the process On the Cutting Edge uses for activity review, see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This page first made public: Jun 24, 2008


Students will learn how to make measurements and collect data using Google Earth and NIH ImageJ.

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2nd year geology majors.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Basic computer skills.

How the activity is situated in the course

stand-alone exercise


Content/concepts goals for this activity

analyze various parameters of streams and drainage basins, identify features on topographic maps, measure and plot profiles, etc.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Make interpretations, quantify observations, compare and contrast

Other skills goals for this activity

Using Google Earth, Excel, ImageJ and topographic maps

Description of the activity/assignment

Students load a topographic overlay into Google Earth. Rather than working with paper maps they will learn to make observations and collect data directly from digital maps, in this case while learning about fluvial systems. The lab is designed to introduce student to the power and usefulness of freely available software and data found on the internet.
Designed for a geomorphology course

Determining whether students have met the goals

Students should be able to retrieve and work with any USGS topographic map of the US.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

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Supporting references/URLs

These are listed in the exercise.

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