Today is GIS Day!
Geography is more than just maps—it’s about understanding our world and the innumerable factors that have created place over time. However, maps are one of the most essential tools that geographers use to understand the constant changes of our planet and its inhabitants.
An important modernization of mapping has been the development of geographic information systems (GIS): computer systems and associated technology that allow users to create maps to display, analyze, and interact with valuable geographic information.
Geographers, explorers, and scientists alike are using GIS to map the African continent in new and exciting ways. We can now track the migration of elephants through national parks, find areas of deforestation in Africa’s rain forests, evaluate the use and distribution of natural resources, and much more.
Map your own exploration of Africa!
Image of National Geographic’s MapMachine
Test Your Africa IQ with our interactive quiz on Google Earth.
MORE ABOUT GIS AND MAPPING
The Guide to GIS (ESRI)
What Is GIS? (Flash presentation) (ESRI)
Introduction to GIS (FEMA)
MapMachine (National Geographic and ESRI)
Geography Network (ESRI)
Google Earth 3-D Globe
National Atlas (U.S. Department of the Interior)
World Wind (NASA)
In Google Earth
Google Earth is all about GIS and mapping, of course. Fitting in perfectly with our Africa theme is a new featured layer on the 3-D globe—Tracks4Africa, a pan-Africa mapping initiative. To view it, open Google Earth (get it free here) and click the box next to "Tracks4Africa" in the Featured Content folder. Then zoom into the African continent, click on the "4" icons, and explore! (Learn more about Tracks4Africa.)
GeoCaching (Real-Life "Treasure" Hunting Using GPS)
Map Mashups (Maps Plus Videos, Photos, More)
World Heritage Sites
Make Your Own Maps
FOR EDUCATORS: GIS AND MAPPING RESOURCES
Lessons From National Geographic Xpeditions
Grades K-2: Explore Your State With Maps
Grades K-2: Getting Lost
Grades K-2: Introduction to Latitude and Longitude
Grades K-2: Over the River and Through the Woods: Traveling by Memory (Mental Maps)
Grades K-2: Using Maps to See Regions
Grades 3-5: Comparing the Continents
Grades 3-5: Make State Maps With MapMachine
Grades 3-5: Mental Map of Your Classroom
Grades 3-5: Planning a Road Trip
Grades 3-5: Satellite Spyglass: Formal, Functional, and Perceptual Regions
Grades 3-5: What We Can Learn From Maps
Grades 3-5: Which Direction Should I Go?
Grades 6-8: Contour Maps with DOGTAILS
Grades 6-8: GIS: Helping to Save the African Wild
Grades 6-8: How Can Maps Help?
Grades 6-8: How Do We Find Our Way?
Grades 6-8: Latitude, Longitude, and Mapmaking
Grades 6-8: School Space: An Analysis of Map Perceptions
Grades 6-8: Spatial Organizations: Identification of Functional Regions
Grades 6-8: Using Maps in Ocean Research
Grades 9-12: A Look at the Population Density of the U.S.
Grades 9-12: Map Projections
Grades 9-12: Map Projections and Careers in Geography
Grades 9-12: Maps and Current Events
Grades 9-12: Regional Layers: Low-Tech Geographic Information Systems
Grades 9-12: What Can We Learn From Satellite Images?
Lessons and Tools From ESRI
Africa Map-Related Lessons (Geography Awareness Week)
GIS for Schools
GIS for Higher Education
ArcWeb Services for Students and Educators
Lessons and Tools From the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Working With Maps
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