What you need to get started …
… depends on what you want to do!
While MapTEACH is a complete curriculum package that has been used in its entirety in Alaska classrooms, it was designed to allow great flexibility for teachers to select those portions of the curriculum that would work best for their classrooms. The five strands of MapTEACH – Placenames and Landmarks, Remote Sensing/Geology, Global Positioning System (GPS), Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and Google Earth – can be taught individually or in conjunction with one another in any combination you desire. Individual lessons from the various strands can also be mix-and-matched to create the learning experience that you want your students to have in your classroom. Below are some general instructions to help you get started with the individual elements of MapTEACH.
If you want your students to collect their own waypoints for wayfinding and geocaching, or to use those points to create GIS or Google Earth maps, then you will need GPS units. We use Garmin eTrex Legend H GPS units because they are fairly economical and connect to computers using a USB connection. The screenshots and directions in our GPS lessons depict this eTrex Legend, however, any GPS that connects via USB would work. You and your students would simply need to navigate through your own GPS menus and screens to match the settings with those in our directions. Students commonly work in teams of two or more and share a GPS, so ideally you would have enough GPS units to enable such teamwork in your classroom. However, if the point is to collect data, even one GPS unit for the class would be a start.
Working with GIS
If you are more interested in enabling your students to create maps and find information using GIS technology and if collecting local data is not of particular interest, then you can simply work through the GIS lessons that require no local data and thus no GPS is needed. The GIS-GPS Quick Start guide available through this website contains all the information you need about computer requirements and loading the GIS and related software.
Google Earth lessons are constructed using screenshots of the version of the software that was current at the time the lessons were written. When using these lessons with subsequent versions of Google Earth, the exact appearance and process may be slightly different as the program is updated, but the functionality and ability to complete tasks should remain viable. Google Earth Lesson 2 describes how to import GPS waypoints, but most of the Google Earth exercises can be done without GPS data.
MapTEACH’s Placenames and Landmarks and Remote Sensing/Geology strands offer teachers opportunities to teach place-based lessons without computers and with little or no special equipment, as well as exercises that introduce students to the use of stereoscopes to see the landscape in three dimensions.