Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Geographic Travels Geo-Literacy Outreach Awards Submission: Using GIS and GPS to Map Noxious Weeds Affecting Our Ecosystems

The fifth entry for the Geographic Travels Geo-Literacy Outreach Awards has been officially submitted.  Suzie Flentie and others propose to teach geography via GIS monitoring and field research of weeds.

Feel free to comment on the proposal and let the board know what you think!

And remember, you still have until 1 October 2012 to apply for the $500 in awards for promoting Geo-Literacy! 

Product Title

Using GIS and GPS to Map Noxious Weeds Affecting Our Ecosystems

What is your definition of geography?

Geography is the study of how everything in the world is related and involves studying the interaction of these parts. Geography lends itself to inquiry learning between disciplines such as science, social studies, math and English because geographic investigations involve a variety of skills. Looking at the world spatially helps students become citizen scientists by collecting data, analyzing that data and then making decisions based on what they find. In order to make use of their geographic analysis, they need to use communication skills in the same way that professionals in the real world do.

Explain what your project is and how it would be accomplished.

We are forming a GIS group of teachers in Montana who are working together to apply GIS technologies to Environmental Education. In the summer of 2012, we chose 12 teachers to come together at Montana State University for instruction in using GIS and GPS technologies to engage in researching noxious weeds in Montana. The teachers and instructors are from 14 different counties in Montana, so the data collection will cover a large portion of the state. We have partnered with community experts from the Bureau of Land Management and The Department of Natural Resources to become more knowledgeable in the collection of weed and water quality data. Students will be collecting data and using ArcGIS Explorer to map their data. We have formed a listserv to share our progress and a group on ArcGIS online where we will upload our maps as students complete their maps.

Explain how your project would be useful in promoting geo-literacy.

This project is promoting geo-literacy by connecting teachers and students in a very large state and using GIS tools to investigate a real world problem that is crucial to our state. Students and teachers will be using GPS technologies in the field, creating maps with GIS technologies and then analyzing data from their own area and other areas around Montana. They can also look beyond Montana by analyzing other states’ data.

Explain what your project’s “afterlife” will be (distribution, legacy, etc.)

Because of our affiliation with Montana State University and the extended University, we will be able to extend this project next summer by including more teachers and moving on to other projects like water quality monitoring. We will also be sharing this “Climate in My Backyard” case study through the extended university website at MSU.

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