Tools and Data

Note: This chapter was retired in October 2018. The visualization tool (My World GIS) is no longer supported.


My World GIS

My World GIS™ is a Geographic Information System (GIS) designed specifically for use in middle school through college classrooms. It was developed by the Geographic Data in Education (GEODE) Initiative at Northwestern University as part of a research program on the adaptation of scientific visualization and data analysis tools to support inquiry-based learning. 

My World GIS gives learners access to a variety of geographic data, enabling users to explore critical issues about the environment, geography, geology, demography, history, and much more. Its features include customizable display of layer variables, multiple geographic projections, table and map views of data, distance-measurement tools, and buffering and query operations.

Tool Builder

The Geographic Data in Education (GEODE) Initiative at Northwestern University with funding from the National Science Foundation.

Tool Cost

A free trial version is available for 45 days.

Tool Help

My World Online Help Center My World Tool and Button Guides in pdf
The following guides can be downloaded to help with the use of the program:

Data Sources

United States Geological Survey (USGS) 24K Quad Data (free data, requires a login)

These grids contain the quad reference number and name as maintained in the USGS Index to topographic and other Map Coverage books or Catalog of topographic and other Published Map books. These individual zip files are in an ArcView shapefile format.

National Wetlands Inventory (NWI)

The Wetlands Data Extraction Tool uses the USGS topographic quadrangle names for area selection and extraction. If you are unfamiliar with the name of the quadrangle you wish to download you can use the Wetlands Mapper to zoom to your area of interest and view the quadrangle names. Most U.S. State datasets are available through this service.

Land Use and Land Cover (LULC)

The Land Use and Land Cover (LULC) data files describe the vegetation, water, natural surface, and cultural features on the land surface. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) provides these data sets and associated maps as a part of its National Mapping Program. The LULC mapping program is designed so that standard topographic maps of a scale of 1:250,000 can be used for compilation and organization of the land use and land cover data. In some cases, such as Hawaii, 1:100,000 scale maps are also used.

LULC Classification Codes are described here: Appendix

Geospatial Coverage

Land Use and Land Cover (LULC) data are available for most of the contiguous United States and Hawaii.