Friday, May 23, 2008

Using GIS in the Science classroom

Spatial Worlds website
Brisbane, Australia: S: 27º 29' E: 153º 08'
Left image: Science teachers at the GIS and Science workshop at Brisbane Boys College on May 23rd, 2008.
Right image: The Patawolonga outlet at Glenelg, Adelaide.

Putting the 'S' into Science!
This weekend I had the pleasure of conducting a workshop for Brisbane Science teachers at Brisbane Boys College on behalf of the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Water. Mary Rowland, the President of Queensland Science Teacher's Association and Enterprise Education Education Officer was the workshop organiser and is keen to have GIS used in science classrooms in Queensland. The teachers at the workshop went through the GIS skill development process with a special focus on the application of GIS to Science topics. We heavily relied on the Arc Australia GeoScience data and the CityGreen program to explore topics such as earthquakes, geology, carbon seqestration, water quality, aquifers, microclimates, mineral resources, revegetation and much more. Mary in particular was interested in how GIS could be employed in schools for the Department of Natural Resources and Water's Waterwise Program.
As the workshop progressed it beacame evident that GIS is a wonderful tool to use in the Science classroom and is also the tool of the scientist in the 21st Century.
Here is some of the information from the days and some great websites to use when exploring the area of GIS in Science teaching.
1.Oresome Resources: Some excellent geological resources are to be found at
2. The Department of Natural Resources and Water have developed a GIS application relating to ecosystem monitoring. Go to to view the resource.
3. Geoscience data: In the workshop the fantastic Geoscience Australia data of rock types, aquifers, mineral resources, earthquakes, bathymetry etc was profiled and used extensively. To find out about the data and how to get a copy go to : and for the information on the resource.
4. The IrfanView resource is a very useful free image edit program. The program can be used in particular to batch convert image files and crop exported images for GIS. Go to to download this free software.
4. A great resource for free data from the Internet is found at
5. The need for file format translation (such as MapInfo to Shapefiles as for the data above) is always an issue when accessing data from the Internet. The following links provide some options for the translation of one GIS format into the one required. They are: and
6. The skills developed during the workshop related to the GIS skills development process I have developed to get teachers started using GIS in their classroom. Go to if you want to read about this process.
7. The American Forests CityGreen program was profiled as a way to go for Science teachers. Go to to read about this amazing program which promotes fieldwork and high level environmental analysis of vegetation and energy use when using GIS.
8. I feel that much work should and could be done to use GIS in Science teaching. Just like the case with the use of GIS by geographers in the workforce, GIS is increasingly being used by scientist as an aid to their work. To this end I have produced the GIS in Science resource which is being used in schools around Australia. Go to (called Physical GIS under the TECHGEOG label) to view an article on the resource. Several other useful GIS in Science orientated sites/resources are:
* Wisconsin Department of Natural Science at
* Pathfinder Science site by Dr Tom Baker at
* Australian Science orientated GIS projects for:
# Water quality mapping
# Revegetation project
# Pest plant diffusion
9 .Go to ESRI lessons at to view science based GIS lessons.
10. The blog at is a useful resource for science teachers to explore the use of GIS technology in their classroom.

The days were a great opportunity to meet Science teachers in Queensland and to discuss the use of GIS in Science. Thanks to Mary Rowland and Peta Jackson from Education Queensland for organising the workshops and enabling me to travel to Brisbane for the activity.

1 comment:

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Fine Article on GIS Programme

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