Land Use Change in MidCoast Maine

Eileen Johnson, Bowdoin College


This lab exercise is intended to introduce students to the fundamentals of GIS as part of two - three hour lab periods. The exercise provides experience with GIS software as part of a spatial analysis exercise. Students map water quality data and compare these results with land use within the Androscoggin River Watershed.


Type and level of course
This lab is intended as the students' first exposure to GIS as part of an introductory environmental science class.

Geoscience background assumed in this assignment
This assumes little to no geoscience background, but provides students with the tools to apply GIS within their respective science disciplines

GIS/remote sensing skills/background assumed in this assignment
This assignment assumes students have had no exposure to GIS.

Software required for this assignment/activity:
ArcGIS 9.3, Excel

Time required for students to complete the assignment:
Two lab periods


GIS/remote sensing techniques students learn in this assignment
Students learn the fundamentals of working with GIS software including mapping data collected by GPS, symbolizing data, working with attribute tables, using basic geoprocessing tools, and methods for displaying data.

Other content/concepts goals for this activity
Students graph some preliminary data resulting from their analysis.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Students analyze change over time as part of the spatial analysis. As part of the second week lab exercise, students compare water quality sample data with land use data within the Androscoggin River Watershed.

Description of the activity/assignment

This lab provides a two week introduction to GIS for students. It is intended to be a stand alone project that students can work through at their own pace with assistance from the instructors. After completing the first week assignment, students are given a case study the following week in the lab that applies many of the techniques incorporated in the first week.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Students are required to answer a series of questions in response to prompts as part of the first week's lab. The test of their understanding comes during the second week, when they are presented with a case study on land use analysis within a watershed.
More information about assessment tools and techniques.

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