Construct a New Map
After completing the activity, have students brainstorm other correlations they could study in their community. Ask them what question(s) they would like to answer, and how they would state the hypothesis for the additional study.
For example, the same skill-set can be used for several other mapping and management applications such as:
- Where are fire hydrants located, and where should a new fire hydrant be installed?
- Where are the shopping cart corrals most needed in the local grocery store parking lot?
- Where are fast food restaurants, or coffee shops, located, and where should a new one be proposed?
- Where are the homes of elderly people located, and where should a new health facility be located?
- Cataloging plant species along transects.
- Mapping locations of fossils.
- Tracking field trip routes and stops.
- What would be a good location to plant a new tree on your campus?
Add a Photo to your Map
In addition to waypoints, users of Google Earth can add photos to the descriptions given to waypoints. This additional information is valuable for many reasons.
Instead of using Google Earth, a GIS program could be used for this project. Several options are available for free trial.
Arc Explorer for Education (AEJEE) is a free program offered by ESRI.
ArcExplorer Java Edition for Education (AEJEE) is a downloadable, lightweight GIS tool for exploring geographic data. AEJEE can save and open projects, so work can be shared between users, or between school and home. AEJEE can classify and symbolize shapefiles, integrate a wide array of image data, project on-the-fly shapefiles stored in decimal degree, and use data distributed over the Internet.
GPS to GIS tools
In order to display the waypoints in a GIS program the waypoints will need to be downloaded from the GPS, saved, then imported into the GIS application. Garmin DNR is a free program for downloaded data from a GPS. (for PC only) It is available from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources at:
Mobile Phone Apps
There are many options for applications that can be used on mobile phones, such as the iphone, that will collect GPS data. This data can be exported as a .gpx file and imported into Google Earth. This page includes a tutorial demonstrating this method, Import GPS data from a file (scroll down the page).
Base Maps and Images
In addition to points, a base map will be needed to display the data at the location the waypoints were collected. Base maps are available through a variety of servers.
Related Case Studies
Other EET chapters that utilize Google Earth as a tool and satellite imagery as a data source include the following:
- Exploring Air Quality in Aura NO2 Data Explore relationships between air quality and population density. Download NO2data and analyze them to develop a conceptual understanding of how population and topography can influence the air quality of a region.
- Exploring monsoon precipitation and streamflow in a semi-arid watershed Learn about a small, semi-arid watershed in the mountains near Tucson, Arizona.