Thursday, August 2, 2007

Advanced Smoky Mountains Science Teacher Institute GIS/GPS Workshop

11 high school teachers are participating this week in the Advanced Smoky Mountains Science Teacher Institute that is being held at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont. This is a wonderful opportunity for high school teachers to learn about the great diversity of flora and fauna in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and the threats they face on a daily basis as well as learn about scientific inquiry and how to incorporate more in their classrooms.

The week started with millipedes surveys, identification and workshops on threats to millipede habitat like invasive earth worms introduced in the park. Bruce Snyder from the University of Georgia led this part of the class detailing his work and research in the Smokys with millipedes. The millipedes survey was coupled with a technology session on Global Positioning Systems and how they can be used as a scientific inquiry and data collection tool. This session was led by Mark Ethridge (Tuscola High School), Pete Kennedy (AB Tech) and Haven Hanford (NC DNR) - the 'GIS/GPS Team'. Following the millipedes survey (GPS) and identification, the class began an introductory session in Geographic Information Systems using the free GIS tool from ESRI, ArcExplorer. Students learned basic GIS skills and concepts related to map navigation, layers, attributes, selecting features by querying, tables and data management skills.

Day 2 of the GIS portion of the class, students took their own data collected in the field and integrated it into the GIS. Tables were generated and points were established on the map corresponding with the locations of millipedes surveys. Teachers incorporated this with aerial photographs and topographic maps of the area. The map above shows survey locations shown as graduated symbols. The larger red circles are plots where more millipedes were found and the smaller yellow circles indicate plots were fewer millipedes were found.

The Geospatial Technology Program from AB Tech was happy to be involved with such a wonderful organization as Tremont and a great class! A big thanks go out to Jason Love, Citizen Science Director from Tremont and Susan Sachs, Park Ranger from GSMNP!

To some more info about the GIS/GPS portion of the workshop, check out the wiki here ==>

Also, if you have GoogleEarth, you can view our Millipede survey data here!

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