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Earth Observation Day

EarthObservationDay

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 2015 on Wednesday, April 8th. 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? 

A land cover map of Morgantown, WV developed using MultiSpec. The map shows developed areas in pink and red, forested areas in green, agricultural areas in yellow, and water in blue.

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. Pre-service teachers learning to use GPS receivers during an Earth Observation Day event in West Virginia.'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 8, 2015, 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-6: 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 will get their own copy of the statewide mosaic map to 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 for all States is available here. The national science education standards associated with the lesson are located here for K-4 Grade and here for 5-8 Grade.


Grades K-16: Interactive Introduction to Remote Sensing Imagery - Land Cover Change Detection Lesson

Online Puzzle Game

The 'Interactive Introduction to Remote Sensing Imagery' 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.The national science education standards associated with the lesson are located here for 5-8 Grade and here  for K-4 Grade.

The 'State Landsat Mosaic Puzzle Lesson' and the 'Interactive Introduction to Remote Sensing Imagery-Land Cover Change Detection Lesson' were developed by Pia van Benthem at the University of California Davis (UC Davis). Pia van Benthem is the CailforniaView Coordinator,  the Outreach Coordinator of the Center for Spatial Technologies and Remote Sensing at UC Davis and serves as Co-Chair of the California SpaceGrant  Education Working Group. She has extensive teaching experience and combined with her engineering degree she supports STEM education and geospatial technology, in particular.

Pia would be glad to support teachers utilizing these lesson plans.  For questions, please feel free to contact Pia van Benthem by email or phone at 530-752-0857. 


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. The national science education standards associated with the lesson are located here for 5-8 Grade and here  for K-4 Grade.

PennsylvniaView Director Dr. Tom Mueller

This exercise was developed by Tom Mueller at California University of Pennsylvania.  Tom Mueller 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  teachers utilizing this lesson.  For questions, contact Tom Mueller by email or phone at 724-938-4255.


The following three lesson plans for Grades 6-12 built upon each other and should be taught as a lecture series. The 'Teacher's Guide' providing resources on Land Use and Land Cover is available here. An animated Powerpoint presentation can be downloaded here to guide students step by step through the three Google Earth lecture series lesson plans. This presentation also includes the 'Introduction to Map Scale Using Google Earth' lesson plan (see above). 

1.  Google Earth Introduction to Remote Sensing

The 'Google Earth Introduction to Remote Sensing' lesson teaches middle 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.

2.  Understanding Land Use and Land Cover Using Google Earth

The 'Understanding Land Use and Land Cover Using Google Earth' lesson teaches middle school students how to use Google Earth to create a simple land use map.  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 supplemental readings and/or additional mapping questions. The national science education standards associated with the lesson are located here

3.  Viewing Land Cover Data Sets Using Google Earth

The 'Viewing Land Cover Data Sets Using Google Earth' lesson teaches middle and high school students how to view different data sets in Google Earth. The focus in this lecture is to view the freely available National Land Cover Data (NLCD) sets. The students will learn the process of displaying existing data sets in Google Earth  used to analyze land cover changes.  The lesson can be adapted by teachers to increase knowledge and complexity, by adding supplemental readings and/or additional mapping questions. The national science education standards associated with the lesson are located here

AmericaView Executive Director Dr. Rick Landenberger

The Google Earth lecture series was developed by Rick Landenberger, Tom Mueller and Pia van Benthem. Rick Landenberger is  a former AmericaView Executive Director and current faculty member in the Department of Geology and Geography at West Virginia University in Morgantown. He is a forest ecologist and remote sensing scientist by training. In the past ten years Rick 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, Tom and Pia would be glad to support teachers utilizing these lesson plans.  For questions, contact Rick Landenber by email or phone at  304-293-9468, contact Tom Mueller by email or phone 724-938-4255 or contact Pia van Benthem by email or phone 530-752-0857.


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

Tutorial 1: Viewing Remote Sensing Imagery (PC Teacher version with notes, PC Student version, Mac Teacher version with notes, Mac Student version)

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:

  • Displaying and inspecting a section of an image acquired by the Landsat TM satellite
  • Identifying surface features and analyzing their spatial distribution in the local surroundings

Tutorial 2: Unsupervised Land Cover Classification (PC Teacher version with notes, PC Student version, Mac Teacher version with notes, Mac Student version)

This lesson is designed primarily for middle school students (grades 6–9, but can be used in higher grades as well). The lesson will guide students in the process of classifying a section of a Landsat Thematic Mapper (Landsat TM) image into several land cover classes. Students will use MultiSpec© software and an unsupervised image classification method. The classification process will be followed by the verification of classification quality and an accuracy assessment. The main steps involved in this lesson include:
  • Displaying and inspecting a section of an image acquired by the Landsat TM satellite
  • Classifying a  section of the Landsat TM image using an unsupervised classification method
  • Displaying and inspecting the classification results
  • Analyzing results and verifying the quality of the classification, through a classification accuracy assessment

Tutorial 3: Supervised Land Cover Classification (PC Teacher version with notes, PC Student version, Mac Teacher version with notes, Mac Student version)

This lesson is designed primarily for high school students, but can be used in middle school advanced classes as well. The lesson will guide students in the process of classifying a section of a Landsat Thematic Mapper (Landsat TM) image into several land cover classes via a 'supervised' classification method using MultiSpec© software. The classification process will be followed by the verification of classification quality. The main steps involved in this lesson include:
  • Displaying and inspecting a section of an image acquired by the Landsat TM satellite
  • Classifying a  section of the Landsat TM image using an supervised classification method
  • Displaying and inspecting the classification results
  • Analyzing results and verifying the quality of the classification

Tutorial 4: Land Cover Change Analysis (PC Teacher version with notes, PC Student version, Mac Teacher version with notes, Mac Student version)

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::

  • Display and inspect a section of an image acquired by the Landsat-TM orbital sensor
  • Display and inspect a section of a second image acquired by the Landsat-TM orbital sensor from a later time period and over the same location as the first one
  • Identify ground elements represented in the Landsat-TM image using your knowledge of the area around your school to support your hypotheses on how the land cover has changed.
The entire set of PC-based tutorials are available as a compressed zipped file here. The entire set of Mac versions are zipped up and available here.

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. 


Geology.com's Introduction to Landsat Images (K-8)
 
This set of tutorials introduces Landsat imagery without any of the technical details underlying the discipline of remote sensing. It has a set of clickable images that are categorized by the type of feature shown in each image. There are images of agriculture, alluvial fans and deltas, cities, clouds, deserts, forests and mountains, glaciers, volcanoes, and water features. Some of the images are presented in colors that do not always correspond to natural colors as seen by the human eye, since Landsat images capture reflected energy in a much wider range of the electromagnetic spectrum. So, for instance, images of fallow fields in agricultural areas are shown in pink and/or red rather than brown or grey, with no explanation of why they are pink or red. The reason is that Landsat and many other satellite images capture infrared energy as well as 'visible' energy, requiring the computer to show them in a color that we humans can see. Don't let this confuse you, but use this as a way to describe the power and utility of satellite imagery - satellites 'see' much more than we do, and therefore provide very useful information that would otherwise be unavailable or extremely difficult to reconcile if they were limited to 'seeing' only what we humans can see from space. The more advanced tutorials explain this principle very effectively. 
 
 
This tutorial, developed by a consortia of European science and education organizations, teaches the basics of remote sensing, organized by chapter. Chapters include physical basics - the electromagnetic spectrum, atmospheric influences and spectral reflectance properties, satellite systems - sensors and orbits, geometric, spectral, radiometric and temporal resolutions, visual image interpretation of satellite images, image processing and enhancement techniques, classification techniques - unsupervised and supervised classification. Chaters are supported by worksheets that teachers can use and/or adapt for lessons and activities on each of the chapter topics. Also included are a set of ten educational games, grouped into 'easy' and 'advanced', designed to deepen student knowledge of remote sensing. 
 
 
This tutorial is part of the Space View of Asia, 2nd Edition CD-ROM produced by the Centre for Remote Imaging, Sensing and Processing (CRISP) at the National University of Singapore. It covers remote sensing principles and applications in a simple, straightforward set of html pages with many graphical illustrations. Sections include human vision, the Earth, Earth's atmosphere, electromagnetic radiation, atmospheric effects, absorption of radiation, scattering of radiation, airborne and spaceborne remote sensing, digital Image, optical remote sensing, interpreting optical remote sensing images, infrared remote sensing, microwave / radar remote sensing, and image processing and analysis.
 
Natural Resoures Canada Tutorial on Remote Sensing (9-12+)
 
This tutorial is structued as a course, complete with quizzes a the end of each section, and covers many of the topics cover by Dr. Shorts tutorial but in a relatively abreviated manner. It has an Introduction to the principles of remote sensing, including electromagnetic radiation, the electromagnetic spectrum, interactions with the atmosphere, radiation and target interactions, passive vs. active remote sensing, and characteristics of images. Subsequent sections cover satellites and sensors, microwave remote sensing, image interpretation and analysis, and applications. The final section contains notes for teachers and students, and a glossary. It is available in html or in pdf format as individual sections.

Lessons and Activities


Exploring the Environment (K-4)

The Center for Educational Technologies at Wheeling Jesuit, with funding from NASA’s Global Climate Change Education program and NASA’s Classroom of the Future, has developed Exploring the Environment. The site contains a set of ‘Earth Action Stories’ and hands-on activities that introduce remote sensing using a story outline. The site offers an overview on remote sensing (for K-4), including pictures from space, and an introduction to radar and sonar. The hands-on activities include ‘Pixel Pages’ - find out what a pixel is and then sketch your own; Field of View - Look at things through different fields of view and see how perspective affects what you know; Puzzling Pictures - Analyze a series of puzzle pieces and draw conclusions about the unknown "big picture."
 

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/