What is Earth Observation Day?
Earth Observation Day (EOD) is a STEM educational outreach event of AmericaView and our partners. EOD will be celebrated officially in 2014 on Wednesday, April 9th. The goal is to engage students and teachers in remote sensing as an exciting and powerful educational tool.
Last year, teachers and AmericaView scientists worked with the GLOBE SATELLITES program to explore the surface temperature of two common types of land cover, asphalt and grass, using Landsat satellite data and measurements taken by students. The idea was to explore patterns of surface temperature as they relate to Earth's energy budget. Land cover influences a wide range of important socio-economic and ecological conditions, including local climate, air and water quality, human health and wellness, soil permeability and productivity, stream flow and runoff, and wildlife habitat, to name a few. Mapping land cover using free Landsat data, along with surface temperature measurements, comprise engaging, standards-based exercises that introduce remote sensing technology and critically important spatial thinking skills, fostering a richer, more interesting, and more powerful scientific and cultural understanding of the local environment. For more information on the GLOBE SATELLITES / AmericaView Earth Observation Day 2013 Field Campaign click here. A tutorial covering how to access free Landsat and other remote sensing data is available here.
Why Landsat Images?
Landsat images date back to 1972 and are the longest, most comprehensive set of satellite data of Earth and its features. The images are an exciting and freely available educational resource for teachers of all levels. Landsat images and derived products such as land cover maps (for example, at right), surface temperature maps, tree canopy maps, and soil permeability maps can be used in a wide variety of STEM disciplines including the physical and life sciences. Landsat images also support exploration and investigation in interdisciplinary subjects such as geography, social studies, political science, even history. Thus, land cover mapping using free Landsat imagery helps to meet science content standards and objectives in Physical Science, Life Science, Geography (including critically important spatial thinking skills), as well as Inquiry Standards and 21st Century Learning objectives.
Support for Teachers and How to Get Involved
One of the unique features of Earth Observation Day is that AmericaView scientists, all of whom are experts in remote sensing and related geospatial technologies, are available to support teachers in their respective states. 'Support' can come in various ways, either by answering questions about the lessons and activites, or by pointing teachers toward other resources, or by offering to talk with students in the classroom. AmericaView scientists are committed to helping their state's K-12 teachers as they expand their horizons and begin to integrate remote sensing as a fun, informative, and engaging teaching tool in their classrooms.
For infomation about K-12 use of Landsat images on Earth Observation Day, April 9, 2014, contact Tom Mueller by email or call him at 724-938-4255. A 2013 'white paper' explaining Earth Observation Day in more detail is available here.
AmericaView Remote Sensing Scientists have Developed a Set of K-12 Remote Sensing Land Cover Lessons to Support Earth Observation Day
Grades K-2: State Landsat Mosaic Puzzle Lesson
The State Landsat Mosaic puzzle lesson introduces physical geography and satellite images. In particular, it introduces the Landsat Statewide Mosaic, a composite image of each state created from several Landsat images shown in natural color as would be seen by a person traveling on the satellite. The objective is to introduce students to satellite images showing their state’s natural and man-made features. These might include mountain ranges, grasslands, agricultural areas, urban areas, deserts, and forests. Teachers will identify a few of the most obvious features and talk about them in the spatial context of geography, including where they are with respect to other features, their size, their shape, and their basic physical and biological geography. The students then get their own copy of the statewide mosaic map, and they can cut out areas that 'stand out' on the map (mountain ranges, the Imperial Valley, Mohave Desert, etc.). The 8.5" x 11" full-color mosaic is available here. The national education standards associated with the lesson are located here.
This lesson was developed by Pia van Benthem at the University of California at Davis. Pia is the CailforniaView Coordinator, as well as Outreach Coordinator in the Department of Land, Air, and Water Resources at UC Davis. Her background is in engineering and community outreach, and she is the Co-Chair of the California SpaceGrant K-12 Education Working Group where she supports STEM education and geospatial technology, in particular.
Pia would be glad to support any teachers who would like use it. For questions, please feel free to contact Pia by email or call her at 530-752-0857.
The interactive introduction to remote sensing lesson is an online memory puzzle that students use to strengthen their skills in identifying patterns and features on the Earth’s surface. Students ‘turn over’ images and try to recall where the matching image is located in the puzzle. Additional information on each image is located by clicking on the image. The objective is to complete the puzzle in the fastest time. In addition to strengthening pattern and feature identifiction skills, the lesson familiarizes students with landscape change over time, and the impact of the changes on the biosphere, including humans, animals, and plants. Students match satellite imagery of the same location acquired over two different time periods to explore landscape changes at various locations around the world. There are several lesson possibilities, each suited to a specific grade level.
This lesson was also developed by Pia van Benthem. Pia would be glad to support any teachers who use these lessons. For questions, please feel free to contact Pia by email or call her at 530-752-0857.
Grades 6-9: Google Earth Introduction to Remote Sensing
The Google Earth Introduction to remote sensing lesson teaches middle and high school students how to use Google Earth to explore the area and topography around their houses and neighborhoods. Students create a Placemark at their house and describe their town’s topography in simple, concrete terms. This lesson should be completed before starting the next exercise, Understanding Land Use and Land Cover Using Google Earth. It can be adapted by teachers to increase knowledge and complexity, by adding supplemental readings and / or additional mapping questions. Linked national education standards can be found here.
The Google Earth introductory lesson was developed by Rick Landenberger, a former AmericaView Executive Director and current faculty member in the Department of Geology and Geography at West Virginia University in Morgantown. Rick is a forest ecologist and remote sensing scientist by training. In the past ten years he has been working in K-12 STEM education and professional development, supporting West Virginia teachers in the use of geospatial technology in the classroom. Rick would be glad to support any teachers who use the lesson. For questions, please feel free to contact Rick by email or call him at 304-293-9468.
The Understanding Land Use and Land Cover Using Google Earth lesson teaches middle and high school students how to use Google Earth to create a simple land use map of the area around their school. In it, students will learn the difference between land use and land cover, the difference between natural and man-made features, and basic mapping skills including feature identification and polygon / area delineation. The lesson can be adapted by teachers to increase knowledge and complexity, by adding supplemtnal readings and / or additional mapping questions.
This lesson was also developed by Rick Landenberger. Rick would be glad to support any teachers who use it. For questions, please feel free to contact Rick by email or call him at 304-293-9468.
Grades 6-12: MultiSpec© Remote Sensing Tutorials for Earth Observation Day
The MultiSpec© Earth Observation Day Tutorial Series is designed to introduce students to land cover classification using MultiSpec©, a free image data analysis system. Lessons are particularly well suited for middle and high school students in science and math courses. We suggest beginning with Tutorial 1, after which students may proceed to the other tutorials in the sequence. Teachers with PC labs should start here for an overview, and to get access to the free software and free imagery. Teachers using Macs should start here. A helpful glossary of terms is available here.
This lesson will guide students (grades 6-12) in the process of opening and observing a Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) image. Students will use MultiSpec© software to display and inspect a section of a Landsat satellite image around their schools. Students will investigate how local surface features are represented by Landsat Thematic Mapper imagery. The main steps involved in this lesson include:
This lesson is designed primarily for high school students but can be used in middle school advanced classes as well. In this exercise, students will use the MultiSpec© image processing software to display and inspect sections of two Landsat Thematic Mapper (Landsat-TM) satellite images showing their school and surroundings. They will investigate how the ground elements around the school are represented by Landsat-Thematic Mapper imagery and how things have changed between two time periods. The main steps involved in this lesson are::
Grades 6-12: An Introduction to Map Scale Using Google Earth
The Introduction to Map Scale lesson uses Google Earth to introduce students to the concept of map scale. It can also be used to support some of the questions that students are likely to ask as they work through the other lessons.
This exercise was developed by Tom Mueller at California University of Pennsylvania. Tom is a Professor of Geographic Information Systems and the Director of PennsylvaniaView. He is also the Director of the Peter J. Daley Geotechnology Institute and Director of the California University of Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium. Tom would be glad to support any teachers who use this lesson. For questions, please feel free to contact Tom by email or call him 724-938-4255.
Remote Sensing Tutorials
Tutorials are arranged in order, from simple, introductory information appropriate for elementary school science teachers to advanced, technical information more appropriate for middle, high school, and undergraduate teachers. Each has it's own unique approach, and none are necessarily better or worse than the others. They are listed here by grade level, but this is done only to aid teachers in selecting the most appropriate tutorial for them, at their level of understanding.
Lessons and Activities
NASA Imagers (K-8)
NASA Imagers is a multimedia teaching resource for elementary school teachers interested in using remotely sensed images to teach basic science. Imagers (Interactive Multimedia Adventures for Grade School Education Using Remote Sensing), is a "comprehensive Earth science education resource for the introduction of remote sensing and satellite imagery to children in grades K-8", and has two multimedia web sites - The Adventures of Amerial the Pigeon, and The Adventures of Echo the Bat. As described b the authors, "Echo the Bat and Amelia the Pigeon encompass two major components: (1) an interactive web site with a multimedia adventure game; and (2) an activity guide with lesson plans and reproducible hands-on activities. The interactive web sites are meant to engage children, while the supplemental materials enable educators to introduce the concepts through hands-on activities in the classroom. Applying this methodology, parents and teachers are able to teach Earth science using remote sensing imagery via identification of land use, exploration of featured habitats, and changes in the environment." What a great resource! A full description of Imagers is available here.
USGS Tracking Changes Over Time (5-8+)
Tracking Change Over Time lesson plan includes four parts. The first part, Getting Started, provides an overview and links the lessons to national science standards, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Benchmarks, describes the learning goals and procedures, and has links to additinoal resources. The second part, Understanding Remote Sensing, explains the basics of remote sensing at an age-appropriate level. The third part, Using MultiSpec to Interpret Satellite Imagery, describes and shows how to use MultiSpec, a free remote sensing program that has been used for many years around the world for both teaching and research. The fourth and final part, called The Modules, demonstrate the many uses of satellite data to track different types of landscape change over time, showing students how scientists compare images like those provided in the lessons to learn more about changes taking place in a region.
USGS Earthshots (6-12)
Earthshots is a set of remote sensing lessons developed by the United States Geological Survey (USGS). The lessons, which feature a range of places and events from around the world, introduces remote sensing by showing images of environemtnal change as seen from orbiting satellites. Examples include urban areas, agricultural areas, deserts, forests, geological features, meteorological examples, water, and wildlife. Featuring a clickable map and many images of the same areas taken over several decades, many of which can be downloaded and used in a wide variety of teacher-developed lessons, the images demonstrate how our Earth is changing as a rest of various human and natural activities. Earthshots is an excellent teaching resource for classes in biology, environemental science, geography, and history. Included are links to the USGS's Earth Resources Observation and Science Image Gallery, another fantastic resource for teachers interested in cutting edge remote sensing science teaching materials. Earthshots provides a 'Help' and FAQ page here.
NASA's Earth Observatory (K-12+)
The mission of the NASA Earth Obseratory is to share a wide range of educational resources with the public, including teachers and practicing scientists. Resoures offered via the Observatory include images, maps, stories, and recent scientific findings in Earth systems science, including biology, ecology, and physical sciences such as meteorology and climate change. Topics featuresd in the Observatory include biology, heat, land, life, oceans, snow and ice, and human presence. Fcat sheets on the carbon and water cycles, aerosols, global warming, sea ice, Eath's energy budget, tropical deforestation, and a wealth of other intersting and important subjects. Scientists from several NASA research facilities, such as Goddard Space Flight Center, Ames and Langely Research Centers, The Jet Propulsion Labratory, Goddard Institude for Space Studies, contribute to the Observatory.
Find and download the Landsat poster for your state here: http://wisconsinview.org/imagery/landsat_state_mosaics/