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Office of Science PreK-12
Spatial Thinking

Spatial thinking is the ability of visualize objects and how they interact with each other.  Research has shown that strength in this ability has a profound impact on students selecting STEM related careers.  A further study has shown that spatial ability can be grown by providing spatially related problems to students.

Spatial Thinking

Blueprint 3D:  Spatial thinking is about being able to visualize objects and how they interact with each other.  Most games employ this skill set.  Think about the first person shooter games.  Players have to navigate through unknown worlds and being able to see the layout in your mind is a great advantage.  This game is a little safer but requires you to see how the parts fit. 

Foldit:  Spatial thinking is used to solve problems such as the shape of proteins.  Players of this game help to solve a 10 year mystery in 10 days!

Learning to Think Spatially:  For anyone interested in understanding the relationship between spatial thinking and its application toward STEM education, this book is a must read.  


What are Geospatial Technologies?

Geospatial Revolution Project:   Penn State University developed a series of videos highlighting some of the applications of GIS.

Global Positioning Systems:  How does the system work?

Change Matters:  A practical view of remote sensing allowing for the comparative analysis of Landsat imagery over the last 30 years.


Freeware Programs

ArcGIS Online: A free data viewer with a growing repertoire of robust analytical and visualization tools.  Check out the gallery to be inspired. 

Google Earth:  Originally developed by Keyhole, this program presents the world in 3-d.  Uses projects with the extension .kml or .kmz to display data, images, and other dynamic content. Requires an internet connection. 

ArcGIS Explorer:  It is what what result if Google Earth and Powerpoint mated.  It does most of the things that Google Earth does with the added bonus of doing it in a presentation. Requires and internet connection.

ArcExplorer Java Edition for Education (AEJEE):  This is a bare bones GIS program that allows for the display and analysis of GIS data.  This program will run on PCs and MACs.  Does not require an internet connection.

DNRGarmin:  This program allows for the transfer of GPS data from Garmin GPS units into a number of formats.  It will create Shapefiles and kml files.

Field Scope: National Geographic's free online GIS data viewer.  The site includes a prepared Chesapeake Bay project.  


KML and KMZ Projects

Using Google Earth: Everything you wanted to know about Google Earth

Google Earth for Educators: An entire site dedicated to educators using Google Earth. Includes links organized by topic.

Google Earth KML: A blog with projects submitted.

Google Lit Trips:  Bringing the geography of books to life

Additional content can be found by entering a search term into a search engine and adding .kml or .kmz after it.


GIS Data

US Census Data: Otherwise known as TIGER data, this is data that can be drilled down to the county level

Maryland State Data Center- A wide variety of statistical, parcel, and zoning data

Maryland State Highway Administration- Roads, police, fire, hospitals, streams, and no waiting in line. 

Maryland DNR GIS data- Natural resource data for the state, wetlands, forest, shorelines, SAV, etc.

USDA-NRCS Geospatial Data Gateway:  One stop shop for all of your GIS data needs for agriculture and natural resource data.


Lessonand Tips

ArcLessons:  Scores of free lesson plans.  Searchable by software, topic, and understanding of GIS

USGS GIS Poster:  This webpage does a great job of explaining GIS

ESRI GIS Education Community:  The one site anyone using GIS in the classroom should subscribe to.  Questions can be asked and will be answered by people just like you. 

DNRGarmin Training Video: A short video on TeacherTube to demonstrate DNRGarmin

EdGIS:  A very simple set of tools to enable students to collect data in the field using their phone.


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