Academic journal article Journal of Geoscience Education

SATELLITES: Students and Teachers Exploring Local Landscapes to Interpret the Earth from Space

Academic journal article Journal of Geoscience Education

SATELLITES: Students and Teachers Exploring Local Landscapes to Interpret the Earth from Space

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

SATELLITES program is designed to introduce in-service teachers and K-12 students to basic geographic concepts, geospatial technology (e.g., remote sensing, GIS, GPS, and digital elevation modeling), related data, and applications in complex concepts in Earth System Science. Teachers, who received extensive SATELLITES training in a one-week summer institute in 2006, integrated concepts and technologies in their school curriculum the following fall by engaging students in inquiry-based research projects during an intensive field campaign. 151 K-12 teachers from 110 schools have received SATELLITES training over the last three years and over 10,000 students representing more than 300 schools from every state in the United States and several other countries including Canada, Australia, Great Britain and China have participated in data collection during field campaigns. In 2006, 1200 student observations were recorded and 600 students attended the 2006 annual conference where 60 inquiry-based research project posters were presented. After participation in SATELLITES, teachers' content knowledge in geotechnologies and related sciences increased significantly. Teacher's reported an increase in perceptions of their ability to do inquiry science and employ inquiry-based instruction. They also reported a significant increase in student engagement when students collected data and worked through the scientific process while participating in SATELLITES inquiry projects.

INTRODUCTION

As outlined in Getis et al. (2006), an introductory text for College students, geography has four main traditions: 1. Earth Science; 2. Culture-Environment; 3. Location; and 4. Area Analysis. These four are bound together by a 5th tradition, the geographic method (now referred to as "geospatial technologies"). "The term Geospatial Technology refers to the visualization, measurement, and analysis of features or phenomena that occur on the Earth including its landforms, climate, environment and infrastructure. It is therefore a powerful tool to study content areas like Geography, Earth Science, and Ecology" (Munro-Stasiuk et al., 2006). Geospatial technology includes Geographic Information Science or System (GIS), remote sensing and Global Positioning Systems (GPS). Munro-Stasiuk et al. define remote sensing as "the collection of information about an object without being in direct contact with that object." Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI, n.d.), a leader in the development of GIS software describes GIS as the integration of hardware, software, and data for capturing, managing, analyzing, and displaying all forms of geographically referenced information. GPS is "a system of radio-emitting and -receiving satellites used for deterrnining positions on the earth (ESRI, n.d.). While maps are prominent features throughout introductory geography textbooks, the same texts dedicate only a handful of several hundred pages to discussions of geospatial technology, geospatial data and applications (eg. Bergman and Renwick, 2005; Getis et al., 2006). While these texts are excellent in terms of presenting introductory geographic content, the tools and data that are now so integral to the discipline are rarely introduced to students until much later in their undergraduate careers.

Considering the late introduction to geospatial technology in higher education, it comes as no surprise that geospatial technologies have not been widely introduced in K-12 classrooms in the USA. GIS has received much attention but even it has been not been adopted by large numbers of educators (Kerski, 2003; Berdnarz, 2004). Even though the national standards encourage the use of maps and other "geographic data" there is only one national geography standard that addresses geospatial technology and data directly (The World in Spatial Terms: Standard 1 - How to use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report information) (National Geography Standards Geography Education Standards Project, 1994). …

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