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GIS for Lehigh Watershed Investigations

GIS coverages can be used to promote inquiry-based learning with classroom students. Below is a list of investigative questions that use LEO GIS coverages to promote inquiry-based learning of environmental education concepts through a watershed theme.

The activities include the following eight environmental science content areas described in the National Science Education Standards: Overpopulation, population density and consequences; Population change, growth (reasons and types); Limits on growth & carrying capacity; Pollution – causes, risks & consequences; Resources are limited; Humans impact the environment; Humans use natural resources; and Environmental decisions should be based on science and technology.

Four main topic areas are used in these investiagtions to help learners understand the complex networks of interactions and dependencies within watersheds: underlying science, human resources, people centers, and human impacts. Underlying science focuses on the interdisciplinary study of the complex and interconnected issues of natural watershed processes, plant and animal populations, natural resources, and pollution. Human resources addresses materials consumed or reused by humans to meet their needs, including air, water, minerals, fuels, building materials, and open space. People centers deals with societal needs for human activities, including housing, transportation, agriculture, industry, education, and recreation; while human impacts attends to how human activities affect both biotic and abiotic conditions of the environment.

All investiagtion layers are now available in one GIS at:

Investigation 1: Why does the Lehigh River flow along the specific course that it does? Has its course or pattern of flow changed over time? (Underlying Science)

Investigation 2: Where have people concentrated their settlements and conducted their activities during human history in the Lehigh River watershed? (Human Resources)

Investigation 3: Which part of the Lehigh River watershed is the best place to build your new home? (Human Resources)

Investigation 4: What are some natural processes in the Lehigh River watershed and how do human actions modify them? (Underlying Science & People Centers)

Investigation 5: What is sprawl and how has it affected the Lehigh River watershed? (People Centers)

Investigation 6: In what ways are different parts of society in the Lehigh River watershed economically interdependent today? What role do science and technology play in this interdependence? How would this interdependence have been different 150 years ago? (People Centers)

Investigation 7: What environmental issues should planners consider when designing and locating a site for a new information technology company that will create jobs for 7000 new workers in the Lehigh River watershed? Build a case for the site you think will do the least damage to the watershed. (Human Impacts)

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