Using ARC GIS Explorer

Using ARC GIS Explorer to report Dissolved Oxygen concentrations in the Lafayette Reservoir

An interview with Steve Bachofer

Can you give a general overview of the project and what you hoped to accomplish?

My technology project was to gain some skill in generating an interactive map.  This project was directly linked to an Environmental Chemistry lab.  The lab objective was to record the dissolved oxygen as a function of depth at the Lafayette Reservoir and determine the lake’s thermocline.  To effectively communicate this data, students were directed to make a map to convey this data.

What inspired you to use technology for this process and which technology ended up being the most useful to you and students?<

I have observed more interactive maps appearing on websites giving the public information at various regional parks.  I have also heard conference presentations where individuals note that students are more vested in the laboratory experiment when the lab generated materials to inform the public.  The mapping technology used was ARC GIS Explorer which was freely available.  Students were able to access it in our labs and they could download their copies.

What was the assignment for students? What were some of the student reactions to the project?

The students were assigned to collect dissolved oxygen data from various locations on the Lafayette Reservoir. The EBMUD staff was supportive and provided us access to their paddle boats for free.  The students were given instruction on the dissolved oxygen meters and the separate GPS data loggers.  The student reactions were very positive since this lab allowed them to paddle around on the lake and collect their data as a team.  The mapping portion was not considered onerous after having a data collection lab with an element of fun.  The concept that lakes of sufficient depth exhibit a thermocline was successfully conveyed.  The student data was simplified to make the mapped information easier for EBMUD to display to patrons (typically individuals who fish at the lake).  It is known that the fish do spend more time in locations with adequate oxygen so the data is indeed applicable.

SALG on student reactions:  Using a scale ranging from 1 strongly disagree, 3 neutral, and 5 strongly agree.

Questions Mean Number of respondents
The data set was easily obtained.
You think that the data set obtained from the experiment was high quality.
The experimental site was too conducive to recreation so it therefore distracted students.
The experience of sampling in the field was educational.
The reported data will be used to make an impact on the community.

What did you learn during the process?

This mapping tool worked in an acceptable fashion for a small project.  I would need further training to more effectively use other features in the software and move the created mapped data into Goggle Earth maps.  This aspect might be a future direction since I still am unclear how data in one mapping format (*.nmf)  could be transformed into another format (*.klm).  Geotagging of the information was acceptable however a more straightforward method would be helpful.  A critical addition would be to have a formal ARC GIS Explorer account so that the results were more readily available to others.  The resulting files from the free version software required some internet access and required photos to be stored in the same file folder as the resulting data file.

How may this information impact local communities?

EBMUD staff were pleased to have us collect this data and submit in a manner that they could plan to use.  The fishing patrons are keenly interested in the dissolved oxygen content in the lake as a function of depth.  The class measured the dissolved oxygen content at eleven different locations on one afternoon and estimated the depth of their probe so obtained multiple measurements at a location.  This yielded a consistent thermocline for the lake on the date of the experiment which was 25 to 30 ft.  Furthermore the data was displayed in a map where pop up data marker so some numerical results as an individual hovers the mouse icon over the data marker.  Adding a few pictures that also appear in pop-up windows was only a limited success too.  The class was invited back again since the reservoir staff don’t get this data collected by EBMUD water samplers except once per year.

Anything else you would like to add…

I need to go back to using this tool to improve some other labs or find a better mapping tool.

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