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Citizen science to demonstrate data collection, organization and display to increase environmental awareness at the undergraduate level.

Authors: Carol Campbell*, New Mexico State University
Topics: Geography Education, Human-Environment Geography, Biogeography
Keywords: Experiential learning, citizen science, data organization
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Engaging students in experiential learning by designing activities with citizen science apps and on-line tools can identify research opportunities available to curious geographers. We developed a structure for creating mapping activities for students in an on-line 100 level course. Students not on campus were guided to zoom in to campus and mark features on the satellite image. Two topics were included: waste management and biodiversity. Waste management included a discussion about plastic in the oceans, biodiversity described the ecosystem services of trees and the role of trees in supporting life in general. In two separate activities, students mapped the location of waste and recycling bins and locations of tree species on campus. We downloaded the data into spreadsheets for data organization and summary. Next, we mapped the survey results. Students compared maps, graphs, and tables, then discussed the patterns, and convenience of resources. Following the discussions, students were asked to discuss “place” and “convenience”. Students were engaged, curious about patterns in graphs and maps, and eager to survey more features. Structured repeats of the activities can be tailored to the personality and interests of the students, the instructor, or current events. The objective of our effort is to design activities that make the link between apps, maps, places, and geographic concepts tangible; prompting the realization that we all use geography in our everyday lives. Developing an assessment tool and structured discussions for each activity will improve the learning and possibly the recruiting.

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