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Monday, September 29, 2008

New Collection of GIS Lessons

We're happy to announce the publication of the Rural STEM GIS activity collection for AEJEE and ArcGIS. This collection of 12 activities (authored by Barbaree Ash Duke, edited by me and classroom tested by teachers around the country) focuses on middle school science and social studies. Each activity comes with student instructions and worksheet, teacher notes, an answer key and all relevant data. The activities are referenced to relevant national standards. Each activity can also be easily modified for younger or older students. Each activity can be used by itself or in conjunction with one or more of the other activities. We hope teachers in a variety of settings will find these activities of use.

All the activities can be accessed at 

We've categorized the activities into three groups by GIS experience:

Level 1 – suitable as a first-time GIS experience
Bats in the Neighborhood: Friend or Foe?
Hunting for the Best Cabela's Location
Invasive Species: Attack of the Animals
Invasive Species: Attack of the Plants

Level 2 – best after a prior introduction to GIS
We are the World: A Look at Demographics
Production and Consumption: The Give and Take of Energy
Disaster Strikes
Should You Drink the Water?
Watersheds: Why bother?

Level 3 – best after more than one experience with GIS
What's Your Carbon Footprint?
Can You Grow Money?
Survivor: The Agricultural Challenge

This work is supported the Center for Rural STEM Education at James Madison University and funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

Please feel free to contact us with comments and questions.

Bob Kolvoord

Bob Kolvoord, Ph.D.
Professor, Integrated Science and Technology and
Educational Technologies
Co-Director, JMU Center for STEM Education and Outreach
James Madison University
MSC 4102
Harrisonburg, VA 22807

+1 540/568-2752 (o) -2768 (f)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Dozen Reasons to Use GIS in Your Classroom

They're ready!  The National Center for Rural STEM Education Outreach-Geospatial Technology has drafted, tested, edited and posted.  The lessons as well as a wealth of resources and curricular materials are ready for download.  Check out the site: 

GIS lessons are waiting for you!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Translating Joined Data Files from ArcMap 9.x to AEJEE

In my curriculum writing for GIS, I often join data files for use in ArcMap 9.x.  AEJEE, ArcExplorer Java Edition for Education, is unhappy with these files.  However, there are some simple steps to follow so that they work nicely in AEJEE.  

FIRST, In ArcMap:
1. Join the data files
2. fix the table names so that they are only 8 characters max
3. get rid of any spare fields that you really don't need
4. save your edits
5. export the data as a shapefile

1. add the shapefile
2. do your analysis

Special Thanks to Charlie Fitzpatrick and all the Education Team folks at ESRI for making GIS easier for all educators.