A geospatial lab kit…

I am sitting at my desk feeling slightly befuddled by my own question…”what would you put in a geospatial lab kit”. I want to move my fall class out of the class/lab regime to have them put feet to grass and get a better sense of the use of maps and data collection. My first instinct is to toss them a GPS and say ‘see you in an hour’ but we are at the stage where there are too many people in a class to break up into groups with our Trimbles and not yet at the point where I am ready to get a dozen consumer devices. Plus, this doesn’t give the students something that they can use after the class.

A quick Google search with variations gave me no ‘go to’ list that others offer up for use in their classes. Some things seem obvious like a compass and a copy of the local USGS quad, but what is the best balance between cool tools/toys (200 foot tape) and good expectation of costs ($10? $200?). Do you focus on mapping, how far into surveying do you go?

Like I said, befuddled. To begin to resolve my befuddlement I have decided to look at and list materials then go through and figure out what fits into my current structure or would require only minimal tweaks to fit into class or labs. At the same time I want hear what others are using in class or at work that would help someone just getting into Geography and geospatial technologies. Please email or leave suggestions in the comments. In a few days I will share my original list (with suggestions), the items I am probably going to require for class/lab in the fall, and then in the fall I will share how well the items are working out in my class.

Thanks in advance for sharing your ideas!

Warrantless GPS tracking unconstitutional

Based on a syllabus from the Supreme Court released on January 23, the use of GPS tracking outside of a warrant is a breach of the Fourth Amendment. As stated in the syllabus:

the Government’s physical intrusion on an “effect” for the purpose of obtaining information constitutes a “search.”

There seem to be quite a few implications that come out of the decision that attaching the device is tantamount to trespassing due to the fact that the action was taken outside of the warrant period (11th of 10 days) and location (Maryland vs DC). There seems to be quite a bit of import being placed on the judgement in the couple of articles I have seen so far, however the wording of the syllabus suggests that the key is the actions and information from outside of the warrant’s parameters as opposed to the collection of location information. I think there will quite a bit of debate this week as to the role of the decision on GPS tracking that we will talk about this weekend on the podcast…check back Sunday for our response to others’ responses.

via Gizmodo

King’s College [geography] quiz

In December, the Guardian UK website posted the questions for the notoriously difficult King William’s College quiz or General Knowledge Paper (GKP) given to students (and parents) at King William’s College on the Isle of Man.  In another article on, “The Story of the King Wiliams’s College Quiz” quizmaster Dr Pat Cullen discusses the impact of the Internet on the 106 year old quiz and attempts to Google and social media proof the quiz to keep it intellectually challenging. MacLean’s Canada article on the history of the quiz is simply titled, “The World’s Most Difficult Quiz. Really.

While only section 2 relates specifically to geography and cartography, I estimated that about 70  of the 180 questions could be considered geo-spatial.  These range from questions such as, “4 Who first used continuous and broken lines to indicate fenced and unfenced roads?”  to  5 Where did close neighbours claim the invention of a device for observing at a distance?  The answers to last year’s questions were posted in February, so you will have to wait a while if you get stumped.

The quizmaster Dr. Pat Cullen doesn’t live in a dusty library tower, he is also a birder and citizen scientist for the Isle of Man which is home to several rare species of birds.

40th anniversary of the announcement of the space shuttle program

This great image of US President Nixon and NASA Administrator Dr. James Fletcher shared today by NASA marks the 40th anniversary – January 5, 1972 – of the announcement by President Nixon of the start of the Space Shuttle program, and the beginning of 40 amazing years of innovation and achievement, as well as tragedy in the loss of Challenger and Columbia and their crews.

Image courtesy of NASA