Teach the Earth > GIS and Remote Sensing > Activities > Map Rainfall in 3D
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Map Rainfall in 3D

William Montgomery, New Jersey City University


This comprehensive activity introduces students to onscreen digitizing (OSD); automated mapping (Add XY Event Theme); table joins; 3D models; and automated contouring. The exercise has proven useful in helping students understand the genesis, power, and art of contour mapping.


Type and level of course
This activity is comprehensive and relatively advanced in terms of important GIS-related skill sets, but is suitable for insertion into the middle of an introductory (200-level) GIS course.

Geoscience background assumed in this assignment
No Geoscience background is required, although experience with contouring would be a significant advantage to reap maximum benefit from the activity.

GIS/remote sensing skills/background assumed in this assignment
The student should:

Software required for this assignment/activity:
ArcView/ArcScene 8 or 9.x with 3D and Spatial Analyst Extensions

Time required for students to complete the assignment:
4-8 hours, depending upon skill level and reading ability


GIS/remote sensing techniques students learn in this assignment
Students learn how to:

Other content/concepts goals for this activity

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
The student should be able to employ 3-dimensional visualization to better understand the ways that contour mapping can be employed.

Description of the activity/assignment

This activity places the student into a role as the new GIS expert for the State of New Jersey whose task is to join two different tables of data together (30 rain gauge station locations across NJ and rainfall amounts for each station), create a 3D model of rainfall with 3D Analyst, and contour the data with either 3D Analyst or Spatial Analyst. The activity is very comprehensive in terms of the broad variety of skill sets that need to be mastered in order to complete the activity.

Determining whether students have met the goals

The successful student:
More information about assessment tools and techniques.

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