Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Free GIS with Google Earth

Recently, I've been learning how to use GIS software, namely ArcGIS, to figure out more ways to include these tools in my methods courses. I agree with the literature that--in terms of pubic school curricula--this powerful tool takes Geography beyond the typical states and capitals ditty most of us experienced in grade school. ArcGIS is amazing (including its K-12 equivalent, My World GIS), and many people are doing great projects in schools with these projects. The GIS Storms Sewers Unit is a good example (see image below).

Yet, I wanted a free online tool that was more accessible to teachers and students. I was thrilled to come across gCensus today. It is powered by Google Earth (which I finally downloaded today, too) and it is exactly what I wanted.

Simply put, gCensus allows you to use 2000 Census data to construct maps. Google Maps allows you to include/overlay various features such as locations of schools, highways, businesses, and the like. To get started, just click (as indicated) on the "please click here" link on the gCensus homepage. Then select a state, county, and the data you want mapped. Below is a simple map that depicts the concentration of African Americans in Cook County, IL.

Map created in Google Earth with gCensus

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