National Geographic Education has a nice interactive activity for introducing students to GIS and using maps to interpret information. Maps: Tools for Adventure asks students to interpret the data on five maps to solve problems and help animals. On the first page of the activity students select an animal that they want help. The students’ choices are elephants, eagles, whales, koala bears, and panda bears. After making a selection students see a map that containing three layers of information; where the animal lives, where people live, and how people threaten the animal population. After examining the data students are asked to decide what can be done to help the animals.
Applications for Education
Maps: Tools for Adventure could be a good activity for introducing elementary school and middle school students to basic data and map interpretation. If you don’t have a 1:1 classroom, you could recreate most of the activity by printing out the maps and distributing them to your students. To extend the activity transition your students into Google Earth where students can explore other data layers and develop new questions about the data that find in Google Earth. Take a look at these marine life Google Earth files to get started.