Teach the Earth > Geodesy > Teaching Activities > Where is my house and how does it move?

Where is my house and how does it move?

Guoquan Wang
University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez
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  1. 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: Dec 6, 2011


This is a homework for UPRM GEOL4060--Applications of GPS in Geosciences. It is an elective course for geology majors. Students will measure the position of their house at the beginning of the semester and do it again in the end of the semester. They will figure out the relative movements between the two house positions through comparing the changes of baseline length.

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This is an elective course for undergraduates. It doe not require any pre-requirement.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

No special requirements. Students should like field work and calculations. It is a team job. Students should like to work in a team environment.

How the activity is situated in the course

This is a big homework assignment for the whole semester. Students need to work on this homework step by step.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

  1. Students can independently do a simple field surveying with GPS.
  2. Students understand well about what position and displacement, precision and accuracy, relative and absolute positions.
  3. Students can process GPS data with a commercial software (Topcon Tools).

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Students will work as a team on data collecting, pre-processing, analysis, plotting figures, and writing a project report.

Other skills goals for this activity

Improving critical thinking, writing, and presentation skills.

Description of the activity/assignment

This is a homework assigned for a GPS class. Students are geology majors. They already have basic geology knowledge and field experience. The main purpose is to practice GPS surveying skills so that they can apply GPS in their research. It requires two teams to work simultaneously in two houses. Students will learn how to collect, process, and analyze GPS data. They will understand the big difference between an absolute position and a relative position. They will also have a better idea about the precision and accuracy of GPS.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Students will work on this homework step by step through the whole semester. I will check each step. They will meet the goals of they can pass through all steps.

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Supporting references/URLs

Students can use AUSPOS or other online services to calculate absolute positions.