High School Susan River Project
Students conduct watershed
research at adjacent stations along the Susan River. Data is placed
in an GIS ArcView project file where it can be analyzed with other student
data and correlated with other field features.
1. Can the health of the watershed be determined
by examining the data from a small reach in the major tributary?
2. Can GIS technology help relate data to understand
1. Collect stream and riparian data from designated
stations at a local stream.
2. View and relate the location of the field station
on a GIS software map or image.
3. Navigate to the GIS data file that is related
to the type of field test collected.
4. Enter data in the data file with the associated
station number to the actual station outdoors.
Students will analyze:
1. By color coding on the map or image their field
data to other students' data for one test.
For example, relating the changes
in dissolved oxygen along the length of the stream.
2. The color coded data from one test to associated
color coded data in order to look for correlations.
For example, relating high numbers
of macroinvertebrates with high percentage of gravels and cobbles.
Project File Window of ArcView GIS Project
This is the screen image when opening the project filein ArcView 3.1
The "dumb" aerial photo image (see final notes contrasting "smart" and
"dumb" images for educational purposes) has the study stations drawn in
and numbered. The types of
watershed tests included in this study are listed as "Themes" to the
left of the image. The graduated colors show the range of data that
can be displayed within the stations on the aerial photo image.
The screen below is how ArcView might look to students who are analyzing
the distribution of the macroinvertebrates among the various study stations.
The data table shows highlighted data in yellow while the map has that
location highlighted in yellow as well. Each dot represents 5 macroinvertebrates.
Notes to Teachers Learning and Using ArcView
ArcView has incredible potential for applications in displaying and
analyzing data for the natural and the social sciences.
ESRI (the developer of ArcView and other GIS products) is leading the
world in creating GIS products for education. Unfortunately, the
industry has still not achieved a teacher-friendly configuration.
The problems I encountered learning and using this software are:
1. Complexity in transfering files into project files.
This might be standard stuff for folks that navigate through computer
files frequently but for us "word processing and grade program teachers",
this is an almost impossible jump.
2. The industry is stuck on the idea that accuracy
and presentation are EVERYTHING. From the agency, business and legal
standpoint I can understand these values. However, from an educational
standpoint, ease of operation is more important than accuracy. Personally,
I would like to import any image (even a simple local road map) and be
able to set latitude and longitude coordinates on the corners so that all
other points within the image may be shown with coordinates. At this
time the ArcView program only sets coordinates on geo-referenced ("smart")
3. Saving subfiles within the project file
is necessary and confusing. This causes incredible stress on the
teacher wanting to set up a project file for students.
4. The learning curve for this program is relatively
steep and high compared to other programs teachers would commonly use for
their classroom. A absolute minimum one week course is necessary
to learn it.
A Contrast of Smart and Dumb Images
Smart Images= Geo-Referenced Images= Images or maps that include precise
digitized coordinates to the location and SHAPE of the Earth.
Smart images can be precisely overlaid on other smart images.
Smart images can be used to precisely find distance, coordinates and measured
Smart images are not readily and quickly available, especially for small
geographic areas such as areas
study around a school site.
Dumb Images= Non Geo-referenced Images= Images that do not have coordiantes
embedded within the image. They can include off-the shelf maps, aerial
photos, car maps and pictures.
Dumb Images are readily available.
Dumb Images can be easily found for a small localized area.
Dumb Images can be easily scanned into a file that is then transferred
to the GIS project.
Dumb Images can not be precisely aligned with any other images that are
scanned in or transferred in.
Dumb images can not be used to find distance, coordinates or measurable
Dumb or Smart,
You figure it out!