Students can study the spatial distribution of Jason’s Deli, headquartered in Texas,
and Culver’s, a restaurant headquartered in Wisconsin, using ArcGIS Explorer.
to discover aspects of river life that
might have inspired Mark Twain’s
stories The Adventures of Tom Saw-
yer, The Adventures of Huckleberry
Finn, and “The Celebrated Jumping
Frog of Calaveras County.”
These lessons also demonstrate
how GIS fits into a research project
or a traditional writing assignment.
Contemporary tools bring traditional
curricular content to life.
Using GIS in the Classroom
Today’s educators can use GIS in three
powerful ways. First, teachers can run
desktop GIS software on classroom
computers using data stored locally.
For example, students could analyze
the route, severity, and frequency of
hurricanes for the past 150 years to
prove or disprove a newspaper article
claiming that hurricanes are more
frequent now than ever before. GIS
software includes free options, such as
ArcExplorer Java Edition for Educa-
tion ( http://edcommunity.esri.com/
aejee) and other low-cost options
Another choice is to use Web-based
GIS. For example, students could use
the Modern Language Association’s
language maps ( www.mla.org/maps)
to study the distribution of German
speakers across counties in the Mid-
western states of the United States, or
analyze the future of Yiddish versus
Students use data from the map above to write a persuasive essay about the Gulf oil spill.
This image illustrates the percentage of
German speakers by county in 2000
using U.S. Census data from the Modern
Language Association’s Language Web GIS.
Arabic spoken in New York City by
studying the number of speakers of
each language by age. They could
use the cartograms in Worldmapper
( www.worldmapper.org) to analyze
more than 600 variables, such as high-
tech exports and child labor.
One Web-based resource allows
educators and students to create maps
online and share them with their
classrooms, other colleagues, or the
world. Through ArcGIS Online (www.
arcgis.com), students can create maps
on current events, such as the Gulf oil
spill, wildfires, or weather patterns, and
save them in the “cloud,” where they
can share them with others. ArcGIS
Explorer Online ( http://explorer.arcgis.