Links of Interest
Well I have been working on some different things and I have run across a lot of interesting things. One of the things that I am really interested in is GIS (Geographical Information Systems). It is amazing the amount of different tools that allow you do look at the world from different angles and with different data. The main reason that I am interested in this is because I think that it can be very powerful to be able to manipulate information and make correlations between different pieces of information especially when it comes to looking at the world. For example I was in a session on using MarcoPolo and the teacher showed us a lesson plan called the Geography of Pizza. Now within about the first three minutes of looking over the lesson I had an idea of how to use something people are still learning about, that is Google Maps. Being able to access simple information such as where pizza shops are located seems to many to be insignificant, but you also need to be able to look at these types of information in a different way. For one you can ask the whys of where pizza shops are located as well as looking at the density of some in certain areas. Then you can also have students work with real maps to further explore different things that they might not see with the web page. Perhaps ideas of distance and the different ways of going somewhere depending on modes of transportation, for example why one route might be more accessible if I was riding a bike as opposed to driving a car. The simple use of Google maps is a great starting place for students to look at the world differently.
There are also quite a few other possibilities when looking at GIS. Depending on the types of activities that you want to do determines what you might want to use. Another option out there that allows students to interact with data is a software program called ArcVoyager Special Edition from ERSI. This is an edition of ESRI's full GIS software which is ARC GIS. ArcVoyager Special Edition is a nice way to start with GIS. It allows you to take information from data sources, such as the US Census Department, and manipulate the different data sets. So what could students find out about their community and the surrounding areas? Economic trends can be looked at, location of specific types of landmarks could be looked at. The list of different ideas is only as limited as the data sets that are available, which shouldn't be a problem since most counties in the US have a GIS Service division.
Both of these services are easy to access and free. Not to mention the others that are out there. Here are two more that I haven't fully explored, but hope to soon one is the Geographic Resources Analysis Support System (GRASS), which is an Open Source program, it doesn't run natively on Windows so this is a bit tougher to try. The other Open Source project is NASA's World Wind, which I am excited to try. Anyways there are a few things that I have found and will be looking at in the near future.