Curriculum Development using GIS in Environmental Education
Janowski, Chad W.
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, College of Natural Resources
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Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are powerful tools used by numerous industries, government agencies and increasinglyK-12 educators. GIS allows the display, storage, and analysis of spatial data. Educators are realizing the potential for these tools in their classroom in not only encouraging student inquiry and exploration, but also promoting student involvement in citizen action experience. Students are becoming involved in resolving real issues facing their communities. Yet, the infiltration of GIS into classrooms has been slow. This has been attributed to various reasons, including the lack of relevant curriculum, adequate training for teachers, and access to data. This project describes a curriculum development project incorporating GIS in Environmental Education (EE). To accomplish this task, a conceptual framework was constructed containing themes, key concepts, processes, skills, and learning objectives. The activities were developed using the conceptual framework as a guide. Background information was compiled, GIS data were located and step-by step instructions were written. Wisconsin model academic standards were correlated with each activity and included to assist educators. The resulting curriculum, Understanding Our Environment with GIS, consists of five lessons focused around two themes: 1) the distribution of species on Earth, and 2) the impact of humans on ecosystems. Included with the curriculum are the conceptual framework used in its development, correlation with the Wisconsin Model Academic Standards, an Arc View tool reference, a glossary, and a data CD-ROM. This project attempts to resolves some of the obstacles of implementing GIS in schools. Yet, further work needs to be done in providing training, developing more curriculum resources, and providing usable data for educators to feel comfortable using this technology in their classrooms. Hopefully Understanding Our Environment with GIS can be an impetus for this important work to get the power of GIS in the hands of students studying the environment.