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11 Posts authored by: KDonia-esristaff Employee

Earth is round and there are globes in many classrooms. But when we talk about maps we are often talking about flat maps (either on paper or on a screen). How does something round become something flat? Grab an orange and explore projections!


ArcGIS StoryMaps > Flattening Earth 

GeoInquiries are a great introduction to GIS for teachers and students alike. Through them, you can get familiar with ArcGIS Online through maps that fit into your curriculum, align with standards you are already teaching to, and are even tied to textbooks. But one of the hurdles with technology is keeping up with its changing pace, and GIS is no exception. And that's good -- the evolution of ArcGIS is making it easier and more powerful. But it does mean you sometimes need to step back and relearn a tool.


The time to relearn Map Viewer (where you see maps) in ArcGIS Online is approaching. The next generation of Map Viewer is available now in beta. But don't worry! The GeoInquiries you like, and that helped you get comfortable in the GIS world in the first place? Well, we have updated some of the most popular of them to use the new Map Viewer Beta. You can use these to jump into the new Map Viewer Beta, get familiar, and start seeing what it will be like using the new version. The five GeoInquiries available for the Map Viewer Beta cover a range of the capabilities that are popular in the GeoInquiries collections. Each includes an updated map using Map Viewer Beta along with updated steps and tips that reflect the changes in the site.


To see all the BETA GeoInquiries, see:


GeoInquiry map - Earth Science - Topography and Our National HeritageGeoInquiry map - Human Geography - Distance and ScaleGeoInquiry map - Upper Elementary - Ecosystems and BiomesGeoInquiry map - US History - The Dust BowlGeoInquiry map - World History - The Crusades


The following are available for Map Viewer Beta:

  1. Earth Science: Topography and Our National Heritage (PDF) (map)
  2. Human Geography: Distance and Scale (PDF) (map)
  3. Upper Elementary: Ecosystems and Biomes (PDF) (map)
  4. US History: The Dust Bowl (PDF) (map)
  5. World History: The Crusades (PDF) (map)

(To view the exercise, click PDF above and on the page that opens, click the blue Open button.)


We want your feedback on these! Please share your thoughts by commenting here or by emailing us at


Keep in mind that Map Viewer Beta is a beta (so not a released product) and as such it is guaranteed to change and evolve more. In addition, not all the functionality of the existing Map Viewer is available in the beta yet, but it will be. We'll be keeping an eye on the beta, and updating these GeoInquiries as needed. If you notice change we missed, please let us know by emailing (or by posting a comment here). 

Interested in how GIS can be used in an agriculture CTE program? Check out this new Learn path: GIS for agriculture CTE programs | Learn ArcGIS 


In under an hour, you (and the folks you share it with!) will understand the role of GIS in agriculture CTE and know the opportunities GIS opens for CTE students in the career cluster for agriculture, food, and natural resources.


 Person with a device studying plants in a field

You might not always have an internet connection when collecting data in the field. Now, not only can you collect data without one in Survey123, but you can also still see the map! How? By taking maps offline with you in Survey123 through ArcGIS Online.


It takes a few steps and a few tools, but with Survey123, Survey123 Connect, and ArcGIS Online you can get out in the field and see the maps as you place your data.


The four apps used to take a map offline with Survey123.


Head over to the story map An offline map in Survey123 for details and videos showing you how. And reach out here or by emailing with any questions you have along the way.



While Survey123 supports collecting data offline, for a long time we've recommended to K-12 educators that they use a combination of Collector and Survey123 if they need to see their map offline. Not any more! While previously you had to use a separate desktop product (like ArcGIS Pro) to create maps to take offline in Survey123, now you can create them in ArcGIS Online.

Which app should I use to collect data? That's a question I hear a lot – both now, in the education space, and previously, when I was part of the field apps team. Esri offers multiple apps for collecting data in the field – Survey123, Collector, and QuickCapture – and it isn't always clear when to use each one. 


I've been making some story maps lately, and I decided to dedicate one to helping answer that question: 

ArcGIS StoryMaps > ArcGIS field apps in schools
Field apps comparison promo image


Take a read to learn what is common to all three apps and the data collection power they bring to the field. Continue to think through your data collection project, and its purpose, so that you can determine the right app for your project. (Yes, it depends on the project.)

Did you know we dump an estimated garbage truck size amount of trash into the ocean every minute?? On Earth Day we give some extra attention to our planet and its health. Are we taking care of it the best we can? And what have we (as humans) done that hurts it? To answer these questions, we need to know how the Earth is.


Using a new app, this Earth Day you (and your kids) can help scientists monitoring our planet through the Earth Challenge 2020 initiative. They can only visit so many places on Earth and need your help to collect data on plastic pollution. They'd like to collect a billion data points! Ready to help?


You and your kids! This project is "citizen science" which means that everyone can help.



We're looking at plastic pollution -- or where plastic is found that it shouldn't be! Plastic litter is unfortunately not uncommon. I'm sure you've seen an improperly discarded soda bottle or chip bag.



Using the Earth Challenge 2020 app you'll take a picture of plastic litter you find and mark where you found it.


  1. Get the Earth Challenge 2020 app:
    Apple App Store buttonGoogle Play button
  2. Join the citizen science initiative or just skip and start collecting data.
  3. Tap Plastic Pollution, read the intro, tap Continue, and set your language.
  4. Read through the instructions by swiping.
  5. Take the app on a walk. When you find plastic pollution, take a picture, mark where you found it on the map, and tell what you did with the trash you saw.
  6. Keep walking and mark the next plastic pollution you see.



Wherever you are. Plastic pollution is a problem around the globe, and by sharing what you see around your neighborhood you give scientists a look at your community.



Share data about the world around you (in this case, where you find plastic trash) to help build our understanding of the problem. You can help scientists collect the data they need.


What's next?

Did you share the plastic pollution you found around you? Thanks! If you'd like to learn more about the project from Esri's Chief Scientist Dawn Wright, see her blog on the app.


Interested in air quality citizen science? Check out "Air Quality" in the Earth Challenge 2020 app. It has instructions that take you through collecting that data, too.


If you'd like more activities about marine science, check out the Kids Environmental Lesson Plan (KELP) program for free activities you can do from home.




It's a (rare) rainy day here in Southern California. A good day to cuddle up with a good.... story map?


If you've been looking for GIS activities to do with your kids, here's a story map (built on a map presentation) version of an exercise I often do in classrooms: taking printed maps, looking for clues, and solving the mystery of where (or what) in the world we are looking at!


Indoor mapping: Map detectives
My map detective looking for clues


When you finish guessing, fill out the survey on how many you got right (it's right there in the story map) and see how you match up to others. 

The first time I go into a classroom of younger kids we explorer imagery on a map. They love seeing places they know! I've put together a digital version of that exercise, so try it out and let me know how it goes! Parent and child doing indoor mapping

There are some great books out there (for children and adults) about journeys, and as we read we follow the characters across a map. Some books show the map, some don't. When reading a book like that, I find myself picturing the map as part of the story and what I know of the places adds to the world the story is building for me.


One such children's book that I really like is The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman by Darcy Pattison and illustrated by Joe Cepeda. Oliver is a man (made out of wood) who goes on a journey across the US. It's not hard to draw a connection from that storyline to a map! The book even has a map showing where Oliver went on his journey, but it's not front, center, or even in the main pages of the book - it's at the end.


In the fall, our local library was having an event and Joe Cepeda was one of the guests. My daughter and I made a story map of the book. While the book itself tells the story through a series of letters, we took Oliver's point of view, and we brought the map into view more -- and made it interactive! Check out our story map: 


ArcGIS StoryMaps > "My Journey" by Oliver K. Woodman 


While you don't have to know the original book to enjoy the story map, there are a few ways you could get it now. It is an AR book, and Accelerated Reader has it as a read-aloud book on YouTube: The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman by Darcy Pattison journeys lesson 23 AR read aloud - YouTube. It is also available on Kindle, and some libraries might have digital copies available for you to borrow, too.


What next?

What book do you like that could be turned into a story map? It could be a fun project to do! 


Or if you want to play with maps and books, check out some activities we have for seeing maps about some popular American Lit books - GeoInquiries for American Literature | High School Inquiry-Based Activities 

Like many of you, I'm currently working at home assisted by my children (7 and 4 years old). My oldest has had some GIS days in her classroom, but my little guy hasn't. So I was thinking of mapping things to do with them and approachable ways to even start talking about GIS. The result was some fun exploration of favorite color, and also wanting to see your favorite colors! So read our story map and add your favorite color to the map: 


ArcGIS StoryMaps > Mapping Favorite Color  

(Note: this might not be working well on all iPads right now... I'm looking into it)

When my kids first saw this story map, I had the favorites of some friends and family shown. My daughter's first observation was that so many people like blue. Ok, really that was second - first she wanted to know why I didn't include teal as a choice, and how, because of that, she wanted to pick two colors. So if you have two favorite colors, fill the survey out twice! And you can put your dot at your city, or state - don't feel you need to use your exact location - it's up to you exactly where you put your dot on the map.


As you read our story map, you'll find that we didn't just put our favorite colors on the map and look at colors other people like. We also did some analysis - first using a dashboard to see counts of the different colors, and how many people have added a color. And then we used hotspots to learn a bit more about the data (my son might have wondered off by that point, but my daughter wanted to play with the filters and see different datasets). 


I hope you enjoy our story map, and we'll check back to see what color is in the lead once you've added yours.

As a new member of the Education team (Hi! You can read my intro below), I've been exploring GeoInquiries. Going through the Gatsby one, I thought it might be fun to look at the same data in a new way. Instead of just using a web map opened in Map Viewer, what if I put it into a simple app?


Using Web AppBuilder, here's what I made: Gatsby - Then and Now app 



Mostly, I wanted to be able to more clearly look at the differences between the historical and current landscapes of Long Island, and this app has a swipe tool ( on the map) to visually compare them. I also liked that I could keep the interface simple and focused on the info and tasks in the GeoInquiry. Let me know what you think, and feel free to use this app as you'd like, the same as the GeoInquiries map.


A bit about me

As I mentioned above, I'm new to the Education team, but I'm not new to Esri. I've been here for about 17 years. Prior to this I was on the field apps development team and focused on documentation, best practices, and generally supporting users. I started exploring GIS with my children and in their kinder through second-grade classrooms. As my passion for how GIS could be used in the classroom grew, I met the wonderful folks on the education team and decided to throw in my lot with them. I'm excited to share my passion with teachers and all of you here, and I can't wait to see more GIS success in K-12 classrooms. 

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