Ever notice how people sit in rooms? We have the west coast (with outlets) and the east coast- a little more populated with quite a space/ocean in between.
The Case for Spatial Thinking
Recent national academy report learning to think spatially identified the need to help our students with this skill.
Spatial thinking is an ability to visualize and interpret location, distance, direction relationships, movement and change over space. (Sinton, 2009) We think in space all the time in our daily activities- where we are going, want to put things, find our way. We also think about space (science and geography) plate tectonics, cultural regions. We think with space (representations) periodic table of the elements
Issues and Areas
Key issues our students are facing- environmental issues- global climate change, global competition and the economy, transportation, sustainability , terrorism, nuclear war, water use and almost all of them rely on spatial geography. The two areas we rely on to teach those skills are earth and space science and geography that have minimal emphasis.
An Important Distinction
The ability to Visualize - show you stuff and Analyze- critically thinking about the data
You can go to a particular place and choose your view- bird's eye view or street view. Somewhere the ages of 10 and 12 students will develop the ability to conceptualize the bird's eye view. You can also stream real time data such as earthquake activity. Great way to visualize the patterns of earthquakes. But is doesn't allow you the ability to analyze them- count the number, compare the intensity. Offers the opportunity to go into the past, taking historical documents and laying them in their place. Allows you to make your own maps and trips. More and more things in the future are going to be location based with the ability to use GPS and the ability to find you and beam you information.
GIS- Geographic Information Systems
AEJEE - entry point into the GIS world- available and free for the Mac and PC with a growing catalog of activities.
ArcGIS is the professional tool which facilitates in-depth work available on the PC only. VA has a state-wide license.
Example - Elementary level activity
It is about making maps to ask and answer questions.
GIS is where the world of maps meets the world of databases. You can select a field to use to display on the map- such as the median age of each state population. Then ask a question- which states are younger? A hypothesis is formulated and then the map is displayed. According to the data- Utah is the one state comparatively with the lowest median age. Then we can ask further- why is that happening? You can put this software in front of fourth graders and they can make it hum. The challenge is getting them to think about what it means.
Example - Creating Maps with Lines of Longitude and Latitude
They can construct a map themselves putting the lines on the map themselves. The students can query the map- which cities have longitides greater than 0? Using spatial displays to think about space.
Example: Explore data about watersheds
GIS is about making layered maps. You can change the order of layers- turn them on and off starting with simpler maps. It is like rock, paper and scissors. What layers can do is cover other layers. Layer of water sheds covers the entire US while the layer of drainage systems can go on top allowing the watershed layer to still be visible.
Example with Election Results
Example Use of energy and production
Students are asked to analyze energy production and consumption- in 1984 the US was the largest oil producer in the world but we were also the largest consumers using 50% of what we producers. . Using the map layers, we can see that in the last 20years, our production has dropped when our use is 300% more than our production.
It's all about-
Building maps, understanding ther place in the world and asking questions about it.
GIS takes the map from Google Earth and allows you to sort, count, do statistics, makemeaning about the data, look for patterns.