The Community Mapping Experiment enables the students to "define" their community by using the GPS receiver to measure the position of some important landmarks. The Community Mapping Experiment is divided into three phases:
This section covers the Experiment Design Phase classroom activity. The Observation and Plot Phases are covered inExperiment 2: The Community Mapping Experiment.
Throughout the discussion of the Community Mapping Experiment, you will see the term "Reference Location." The Reference Location is simply the location whose position you measured in theGlobal Mapping Experiment. Make sure you have those results readily available.
The community mapping experiment is designed to allow you, the teacher, the flexibility to make this project as simple or as involved as you wish. The goal of this experiment is to have students communicate to one another the places in their own communities that they find important, valuable, interesting, and/or significant. The two goals for the experiment design phase are:
As an interactive class exercise, have the students make a list of the most important landmarks in their community. For practical reasons, the list should probably not be too long, but should probably not contain fewer than five locations. The students should decide what is important to them. This list might be different than if you or another adult made it. Examples of important locations (other than the school, which is thereference location) are:
The students may think of other types of important landmarks. Try to make sure that the landmarks are not too close together. They should be at least 1 kilometer apart.
You as the teacher must lead the students in choosing appropriate landmarks. The students may have to be prompted. On the other hand, they might come up with a far greater number than is practical to use. They may choose a landmark that is too far away or otherwise impractical. You must lead the students to a group consensus on sites that meet your practical criteria.
The Community Mapping Experiment is intended to demonstrate to the students that cultural expression and scientific investigations are not separate endeavors, but arise from similar needs to express ourselves creatively. On one hand, students are "defining" themselves by their choices of landmarks. They will want to choose landmarks that they think will represent them to others. That is why the students should be allowed as much freedom as possible to make their own choices in landmarks. They will be posed with the problem of making some choices regarding landmarks. They may need assistance at first to help them realize that there is no "right answer" to this problem, only "their answer."
On the other hand, they will also be "defining" themselves through the scientific process: through coordinates, numbers, results of calculations. These numbers will be e-mailed around the world. These numbers will "define" them in a limited way to the rest of the world. But these numbers are not simply "labels," like an identification number. They are more than that. These numbers are the result of the creative choices the students made in landmark identification. These aspects of the Community Mapping Experiment should be pointed out and discussed by the class.
Somehow, you or the appointed observers must get to each landmark with a GPS receiver. How you do this is up to you; each school and class may have different constraints. Here are some examples of methods for carrying out the observations:
During thispilot year for ATLAS, an SAO Scientist Observer will be able to help you with the Observation Planning, and may even help with the execution of the Observation Phase.
Space Geodesy Group Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics 60 Garden St, MS 42 Cambridge, MA 02138-1516