BOX 8.2
Students Analyzing a Real-World Problem with GIS: Characteristics and Potential Problems of a School’s Tree Population

Students from 10 Rhode Island communities used an ArcView extension, CITYgreen, to map and analyze trees at their schools. American Forests, a nonprofit citizen conservation organization, developed CITYgreen.

Changes in Rhode Island’s state planning guidelines in the late 1990s required every Rhode Island town to include an urban forestry component in its comprehensive plan, but few communities were prepared to do so. Students used GIS to help their own communities meet this state mandate as they simultaneously learned about the urban ecosystem, trees, and the power of spatial analysis in addressing community issues.

For example, students at Barrington Middle School prepared a map of trees conflicting with utility lines by digitizing the school building and trees on an orthophotograph of the school’s property. Trees in conflict with utility lines were assigned a different color from other trees to create a thematic map (Figure 8.5).

FIGURE 8.5 Trees conflicting with utility lines.

map of population, and so forth. GIS is often seen, therefore, as an integrating technology, capable of bringing together disparate knowledge domains by means of a common georeferencing system. By overlaying maps, one can investigate the impact of groundwater contamination on residential populations or the influence of soils on vegetation and habitat. The concept of overlay integration can be applied as a metaphor for the processes studied by the different social sciences (Goodchild et al., 2000) Thus, GIS can be a software system to integrate knowledge of economic processes and demographic processes as they simultaneously impact an area or influence its future. However, although GIS can, in principle, facilitate learning transfer across school subjects, there is insuffi-



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement