Ron Reuter, Oregon State University

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The first lab for an online introductory soils course for non-majors, this lab introduces students to landscapes and spatial patterns using Google Earth. In addition to learning to navigate in the imagery software, students re-learn or learn simple landscape parameter calculations like slope and area.

soils, landscape, aerial imagery, online

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Type: Soil science
Level: introductory, sophomore

Course is a general education course for Oregon State that meets both physical and biological science lab course requirements.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

No skills required prior to course other than using a computer and internet.

How the activity is situated in the course

First lab for the course, first of 8 in the quarter course and first of 13 in a semester version


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Goal is for students to learn how to access satellite images to observe landscape features. At the end of the lab, students should be able to utilize publicly available imagery to assess basic landuse changes over time. Additionally, the concept and formulas for slope, area, velocity are re-introduced and calculated.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Students are learning to gather data and do simple analyses. This serves as a building block for future activities later in the course.

Other skills goals for this activity

Students learn to navigate the web, simple imagery processing and analysis.

Description and Teaching Materials

The activity is presented to students as a PDF. Students need to download and install Google Earth to their computer. Other materials are on the computer, such as an internet browser. The lab is loaded here as both a PDF (so formatting is standardized) and as a WORD document for easy editing, although formatting may change depending on the user's system.

Landscape Lab for Intro Soils - PDF (Acrobat (PDF) 555kB Apr30 13)
Landscape Lab for Intro Soils - WORD (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 847kB Apr30 13)
Student Turn-in sheet for the Landscape Lab (Acrobat (PDF) 8kB Apr30 13)

Teaching Notes and Tips


Students complete the turn-in sheet. The turn-in sheet is reviewed by the instructor for completion and calculated answers that come close to the key. Students are given full credit for attempted work but are provided feedback for improvement. incomplete work does not receive full credit.

References and Resources