Mapping Our World Mapping Our World


This portion of the training was designed to provide basic skills in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). We relied heavily on lessons from an ESRI text called Mapping Our World: GIS Lessons for Educators.  The text uses various geographic lessons to introduce students to the basic tools and concepts used in ArcMap. 

The lessons were useful in establishing a basic working knowledge of ArcMap software. To make the lessons more relevant to the YNMI program, we customized them using data from our study areas. The main advantage to using the ESRI text was that it helped the students to understand the multiple uses of GIS: it’s not just for creating maps, but is also critical in analyzing data to recognize trends and changes.


The lessons were sequenced so that each one built upon the other, working up toward a final map.  Some examples of skills learned include creating a spreadsheet of  historic properties and then geocoding the addresses for later spatial inquiry, attaching .dbf files to parcel data, formatting and setting up a map for final presentation, and exporting a map as a .jpeg or a .pdf. Several of the lessons we used are described below:

ArcMap: The Basics
This lesson introduces the user to the basic functionality and tools of ArcMap and ArcCatalog.  The students will learn how to open the program, navigate to and open a prepared map, turn layers on and off dock and float a toolbar, identify features in a map, open an attribute table and locate a specific feature, and use the basic tools on the toolbar such as zoom and find.   

The Earth Moves: A global perspective
The lesson begins by reviewing previous learned concepts and then begins to expand upon these and go more in depth.  The ultimate goal of the educational portion of the lesson is to have the students analyze the relationships between plate tectonics and volcanoes, but achieves it by having the students select specific attributes of various layers and then

Life on the Edge: A GIS Investigation
This lesson expands the geographic concepts introduced previously and adds some additional tools to aid the in the investigation into the relationship between earthquakes, plate tectonics, and earthquakes.  The main tool added during this lesson is the measure tool.

Mapping Tectonic Hot Spots: An advanced investigation
The primary skill presented in this lesson is how to import a text file into ArcMap and attach a coordinate system to it.

Running Hot and Cold: A GIS investigation
This lesson begins to introduce skills that enable users to customize a map to fit their specific needs.  The first skill it teaches is how to change the label properties using Layer Properties.  In addition to introducing layer properties, the lesson also demonstrates alternative methods for selecting specific attributes within each layer using the attribute table.  The concept that the lesson seeks to communicate is for students to recognize a correlation between temperature variations, latitudinal locations, and elevation.

Seasonal Differences: A GIS investigation
The GIS skills taught in this lesson include adding new layers to a map and selecting individual features on a map.  In addition, the lesson introduces the graph generator and teaches students about the connection between graphs and maps. 

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Last Updated: 12/4/11