Teach the Earth > Geology and Human Health > Teaching Materials > Explorations of Spatial Distributions of Environmental and Health-Related Data

Explorations of Spatial Distributions of Environmental and Health-Related Data

Nancy Thorpe, PhD
Hagerstown Community College
Author Profile


This activity introduces the student to basic concepts of spatial distribution of environmental and health data with an easy to use on-line mapping program.

Used this activity? Share your experiences and modifications



I use this activity in my Introduction to Physical Geology course (100 level course).

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

My students become familiar with basic computer skills of email and internet use by using my course website. They have also been introduced to basic concepts of geology related environmental and human health issues and interactions.

How the activity is situated in the course

So far, I have used this activity for extra-credit points to test its usefullness and student response. Due to the positive response by many students, I will use it as a stand-alone exercise.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

One goal is to introduce the concept of geographic information systems and the spatial distribution of scientific data.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

With the use of directed questions, the students learn to think critically, analyze data sets, and learn about interactions of data sets.

Other skills goals for this activity

Through this activity students become more familiar with using computers and the Internet, skills that many freshman students lack.

Description of the activity/assignment

After teaching basic concepts of geology and mapping, as well as environmental and health related issues, this activity is designed to put all of the students' knowledge together to create simple computer-generated maps that relate environmental hazards with various diseases. The students then analyze some of the potential relationships and effects between the two data sets. This activity is designed for my specific geographic area, but may be altered to adjust to any geographic area.

Determining whether students have met the goals

The students are asked several questions and to hand in a print out of the map they create. Some of the answers will vary depending on the students' interests.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Download teaching materials and tips

Other Materials

See more Teaching Materials »