Mapping Monday: The Depths of GIS

This week, an illustration that explains the depths of GIS caught my attention.

Illustration courtesy U.S. Government Accountability Office
Illustration courtesy U.S. Government Accountability Office

What a clear way to explain how a map is created using many different data sources!  It also intrigues me to dig deeper to learn more about GIS, something you may want to do in your classroom this year.

The NatGeoEd website is full of resources that explain GIS (or geographic information systems) and resources that allow you to use GIS in your own classroom, like this one.

But sometimes, just an illustration can really help explain a concept. This illustration gives you a glimpse into the mapmaking process, and it also shows that maps created in GIS are full of information from a variety of datasets.

It’s interesting to look at a map and forget what went in to creating it. It’s much more than just landmasses and water; a map can tell you many things about a place and with just a glance, you have that information at your fingertips. What kinds of things can you teach your students by using GIS? What do your students notice about maps generated by GIS programs?

If you check out our MapMaker Interactive, you can create your own map using GIS first-hand. It’s a great way to get your students learning about how integrating data into maps can create a visual way to learn about the many facets of any one place.  It’s also interesting to select very different layers to view at the same time.  Try selecting Summer Sea Surface Temperatures and see what happens when you overlay the Language Diversity layer.  Is there a correlation between how many languages are prominent and the temperature of the ocean?  Ask your students which layers they’d like to see at the same time and ask your students how one set of data may cause an impact on another set of data. (A more easily accessible mash-up might be the “Lights at Night” and Population Density layers. Be sure to use the slider to adjust the transparency of each layer!—Ed.)

For a tutorial on MapMaker Interactive or to see how other educators are using this tool, take a look at this blog post from earlier this year.

What kinds of questions do you have about GIS? How do you use GIS in your daily life or in your classroom? How does using GIS help your students to learn about the world? Are there any other images or illustrations that you use to help explain what GIS is? Please share your comments about GIS with us.

One thought on “Mapping Monday: The Depths of GIS

  1. I work at making maps containing all mining information,
    With my maps you can inform you of the law of the rock, where are the different types of rock, where there faults, where the weathering is it.
    Now I would like to teach students how to leverage GIS
    to let people know how influences a corect georeferenced information
    and detailed geographical around him.
    Gis can be used in Marketing, fashion, business, tourism and of course in the education.

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