Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Google recently announced that Google Earth has been downloaded one billion times. While some news reports mistakenly equate this to it being downloaded by one billion people (I’m probably responsible for at least 100 downloads), it is certainly the closest thing to a ubiquitous resource in the geospatial community.

Virtual globes like Google Earth provide an intuitive way to learn about earth system processes. Michael Goodchild, a leading geographic information scientist at the University of California-Santa Barbara, once advanced a “ten-ten rule” when speaking of virtual globes – it takes a ten-year old about ten minutes to master the workings of virtual globe software.

In order to celebrate passing the one billion mark in just six years, Google created a website titled One World. Many Stories. It includes an interactive timeline that shows how Google Earth is used for the following topics

  • Cartography for All (exploring the world in a new way)
  • Community Stories (protecting resources, traditions, citizens, and the environment through mapping)
  • Armchair Archeology (combining traditional archeological methods with the power of technology)
  • Teach the World (expanding knowledge through geography)
  • Protect the Earth (driving awareness of environmental issues)
  • Mapping for Good (aiding humanitarian relief and disaster response)
  • Virtual Travel (seeing the world from the comfort of home), and
  • Off the Map (developing unique perspectives of the world)

The stories include a date, geo-coordinates, a link to a KML file.

My favorite story is about GoogleLitTrips – a web site that features Google Earth applications that provide a different perspective on great works of literature. The site was established by Jerome Burg when he was teaching English at a high school in California. I met Jerome at the Wisconsin Educational Media and Technology Association’s 2009 Spring Conference in Madison. Check out the Google Lit Trips for Paddle-to-the-Sea and The Big Two-Hearted River that I developed with the help of my children.


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State of the Coast

The State of the Coast

NOAA’s National Ocean Service recently launched an excellent web tool – known as the State of the Coast – allowing users to explore a variety of connections among coastal communities.

Susan Holmes, with the Special Projects Division at NOAA National Ocean Service, provided the following description of the State of the Coast tool:

“Within that narrow strip of land and water we call our coast, there is a nationally-significant story to tell. Our well-being as a nation depends on a suite of benefits that flow from healthy coasts: food, clean water, jobs, recreation, and protection from hurricanes. To help tell that story and encourage the need to better understand, manage, and protect our natural resources, NOAA has developed this State of the Coast (SOTC) Web site: a clear, simple, and engaging Web destination that will foster an increased awareness of the crucial importance of healthy coastal ecosystems to a robust U.S. economy, a safe population, and a sustainable quality of life for coastal residents.

The SOTC Website first offers quick facts and more detailed statistics through interactive indicator visualization maps that provide highlights of what we know about coastal communities, coastal ecosystems, and the coastal economy and about how climate change might impact the coast.  Secondly, the SOTC Web site offers case studies and management success stories that highlight often complex connections across the four State of the Coast themes: coastal communities; coastal ecosystems; coastal economy; and the climate.

Explore this site to gain a deeper appreciation of the connections among healthy coastal ecosystems, a robust U.S. economy, a safe population, and a sustainable quality of life for coastal residents…and the consequent need to better understand, manage, and protect our nation’s coastal resources.”

For any questions, please contact:

Susan Holmes
NOAA National Ocean Service, Special Projects Division
301-713-3000 x158

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The Manatee Awareness and Protection Resource

The Manatee Awareness and Protection Resource

A particularly contentious management issue in the state of Florida involves balancing protection of the Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris) with public access to, and use of, coastal waters. Public debate surrounding the issue is acrimonious, often pitting environmental interests against those of boating and fishing.

Resource managers, policy makers, and the public need a clear vision of the decision process and the information considered when developing protection measures. To that end, Florida Sea Grant developed a web-based educational resource to raise manatee awareness and protection.

The site, Manatee Awareness and Protection Resource, contains an interactive map that integrates geographic information and educational modules in a format that presents human use, regulations, and environmental factors that help guide manatee protection in Florida.

The NOAA Coastal Services Center funded the project and one of the project’s unique aspects was collaboration with group of very talented and creative digital design and media students from the University of Florida’s School of Art and Art History.

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Prof. Tim Nyerges at the University of Washington offers perhaps the only college course focused on Coastal Geographic Information Systems (GEOG 462/562). The course focuses on the Puget Sound region and makes use of a coastal data model to study the interaction of the terrestrial and marine environments of coastal areas. The last GIS lab assignment and final project for the course offered in the Autumn 2010 quarter addressed the flow of contaminants over land and through water. A scenario was set up where a gasoline tanker truck has an accident. The resulting spill is analyzed as it passes over land, through streams, and into Puget Sound. The lecture notes and lab exercises will be interesting to advanced GIS users.

Prof. Dawn Wright at Oregon State University is one of the leading international experts on coastal and marine GIS. Her Geographic Information Systems and Science course (GEO 465/565) combines an overview of the general principles of GIS with a theoretical treatment of the nature and analytical use of spatial information. The most recent offering in the Winter 2011 quarter provides links to annotated bibliographies on diverse topics completed by students. Two students completed a more challenging project developing original mapping mashups for “The Columbia River Basin” and “Oregon Dive Conditions“. The lecture presentations/notes and lab exercises are useful resources. “Deepsea Dawn” also maintains “Davy Jones’ Locker” – a comprehensive compilation of GIS links, and actively shares her discoveries on Twitter.

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