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To prepare for this laboratory activity, students are introduced to the concepts of cartography such as longitude and latitude, the cardinal points, map orientation, projection and scaling. (See supplemental handout) A mock quiz is administered to ensure understanding of these basic concepts. The exercise requires access to an internet-ready computer, with Google earth downloaded, the GIS software package (ArcGIS) installed, a word-processing application (MS Word), and a spreadsheet program (MS Excel). Students may need a primer on how to use Excel: http://www.shodor.org/scsi/handouts/excel.html Through this activity, students can plan their dream vacation. They will use Google earth to obtain the geographic coordinates (longitude and latitude) of places of interest in any part of the world. Using GIS, students create a customized map depicting chosen sites, and approximate the distance between these locations. This activity gives students practice in interpreting maps, and an opportunity to learn about countries outside the United States. The activity can also be used to connect geography with environmental science.
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