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Water Quality and Watersheds: A GIS Investigation
Tania Siemens
2003- 2004 Fellow

Using these curriculum materials, students learn to use a Geographic Information System (GIS) to investigate relationships between landscape characteristics and water quality in New York State. These materials were significantly improved following piloting with Earth Science classes at East High School in Rochester, NY.

There are many benefits to introducing your students to the concept of using maps and GIS to conduct investigations. Not only is GIS an exciting and effective learning tool, it also is increasingly being used in a multitude of industries. Students will develop career skills that they can apply in many contexts, using geographic data to address issues related to social sciences, natural resource management, atmospheric sciences, city planning, and other fields.

No prior GIS experience is required for this series of activities. All of the necessary software and data are available for download (see below). The only limitation at this point is that you must use a PC running Windows 98, 2000, NT, or XP. The Arc Explorer software provided with this project will not run on Macintosh computers.

Downloadable WORD files:

For Teachers:

For Students:

Introduction to Watersheds and Water Quality:

Activity 1:

Activity 2:

Activity 3:

In order to run the activities described above, you will need GIS software and watershed data files installed on each computer.

GIS Software:

GIS Data for NYS Watersheds:

Links to other websites with background information about GIS and watersheds



Copyright 2006 CSIP, Cornell University