Ian Lockwood


Archive for November 2010

The Home & the World: GIS Developments At OSC in 2010

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Land Use in the OSC vicinity using UDA data and IKONOS imagery.

The title of this post alludes to the  Rabrinath Tagore book Ghôre Baire (1916) whose central characters grapple with conflicts over Western and Indian approaches to revolutionary change in an age of imperialism.

The nascent GIS program at OSC continues to make steady progress with helping students approach geographic issues from a spatial, global and local perspective.

Here in our small learning community in 21st Century Sri Lanka we celebrated another GIS Day. On November 19th I organized a talk for our secondary students by IWMI’s GIS manager Salman Siddiqui. He gave a fascinating presentation on the science, mathematics and geography of remote sensing. He concluded with a talk highlighting GIS applications and relief work in the recent Pakistani floods. Salman has previous work experience with ICIMOD and their resourceful Mountain Geoportal in Kathmandu. I have followed up Salman’s talk with a showing of the first two parts of the educational mini-series Geospatial Revolution produced by Penn State University. This film (available online) is a must-see to get a grip on the enormous geo-spatial changes taking place around us

In August we received and installed the new ArcMap 10 software package with three extensions from our ESRI dealers (EMSO) here in Colombo. We also installed Adobe CS-V on all our lab computers at the same time. Both sets of software highlight the commitment made by the school and our technology department to advance student learning in cutting edge design and geospatial software applications.

Samples of OSC's Grade 10 MYP Geography class work looking at population and phone lines. (posters by Vilhelmina, Roger and Satyanshu)

The Grade 10 MYP geography class has had a thorough introduction to the Arc Map software over the last quarter.  I have used two of the lesson plans and data that are included in the Anita Palmer et al. book Mapping Our World Using GIS: Our World GIS Education (ESRI Press, 2009). These emphasize the process of formulating geographic questions and hypotheses and then analyzing data. This year the students have successfully used the “seasonal change” exercise which focuses on the South Asian monsoon. It fits into a larger and more detailed unit on the South Asian monsoon. In both cases the student have completed exercises and then created annotated maps that highlight their findings.

The IB Diploma does not prescribe GIS skills explicitly in its most up-to-date syllabus (for exams 2011). However, the software is an effective bridge to understanding concepts, conducting analysis of geographic data and presenting raw field data.

Samples of OSC's Grade 11 DP Geography work comparing various variables in Africa and Europe. (posters by Skylor, Joyce and Sascha)

The Grade 11 DP Geography class has completed a study and comparison of population growth rates and pyramids using the Analyzing Our World Using GIS book by Robert Palmer et al. (ESRI Press, 2009). The class had earlier looked at net migration rates, economic development and other variables in Europe and Africa using the same resources.

The senior class, a small batch of motivated and enthusiastic students who lead the GIS Day program last year, has effectively used our software and data in their Internal Assessments based out of Sinharaja. They have also just completed a land use and urbanization study of the neighborhood around the school’s campus in Pelawatte. The raw data for these maps was generously provided by IWMI and the Sri Lanka Forest Department and Sri Lanka Urban Development Authority. Our graduate Shamith Perera (OSC Class of 2009) interned at IWMI this last three months where he applied his GIS skills while awaiting university decisions during a gap year.

Sinharaja Geography IA maps showing study sites, land use and forest cover.

A final geography development has been the recent installation of a WeatherBug weather station on the OSC auditorium roof. It is now feeding in real time weather data (temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, wind speed and direction etc.) from our Pelawatte area. The current data can be accessed on two different pages: flash (F) and metric. The installation came a week before we had record breaking rainfall on November 9th and 10th that led to extreme flooding in the Colombo area. We recorded 41cm of rainfall over a 24 hour period!

Written by ianlockwood

2010-11-25 at 3:26 am