Watershed Dynamics

Using Airphotos to study watersheds!
web seminar player screen shot The first of two Web Seminars on the topic of Watershed Dynamics was held on Thursday, December 8, 2005, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. The session was presented by Bill Carlsen, co-author of the NSTA Press publication Watershed Dynamics.

The session started with a general overview of the Web Seminar tools and how they can be used to facilitate interaction between the participants and the presenter. Twenty-six participants were present in addition to Bill Carlsen and the NSTA staff. Educators represented the states of Arkansas, California, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. One participant attended the program from Monterrey, Mexico.

Bill's presentation focused on the use of airphotos in the classroom to study watersheds. He began by asking the participants if they had used airphotos with their students before. The responses he received gave him a sense of how much time he needed to spend talking about where to access the photos and about the photos' metadata files. After talking about metadata files and their importance, he showed a number of images of the Philadelphia region and asked the teachers to mark a number of things on them, like railroad tracks, roads, warehouses, and other buildings. Then he asked the participants to guess how these different objects they had identified on the photos could affect the quality of nearby bodies of water.

web seminar player screen shot

One of the exercises he did with the teachers involved the use of shadows to "guesstimate" the height of buildings as seen from above. The teachers did very well on this exercise and quickly recognized the value of remote sensing as a tool to collect data. Other images in the presentation showed regions of Pennsylvania as seen in infrared. The images themselves looked mostly red. The presenter explained that the red color in the images was an indicator of photosynthesis. So because the images were mostly red, this meant that there were a lot of grassy areas and forests in the image. These infrared images were used to get a sense of the health of riparian zones. By looking at the amount of vegetation around bodies of water, the teachers were able to determine which riparian zones were healthier than others. Bill ended the presentation by sharing a few web sites where teachers can find aerial photos of their region and also web sites where they can download different tools available to analyze the airphotos.

Throughout the presentation there were several opportunities for interactions between the participants and presenter - answering poll questions, chatting, stamping, and marking on airphotos.

Here are some comments provided by the participants at the end of the Web Seminar:

  • "I enjoyed looking at the aerial photos and finding out more about
    determining what was in the photos. I did not realize that the red areas
    in infrared photos represent photosynthesis."
  • "This is a wonderful strategy for getting current information into the
    hands of teachers. I, personally, would like to see more on topics that
    will "update" content areas."
  • "This seminar helped me see another tool that I can use in my classroom.
    I do plan on using aerial maps for my environmental science class."
  • "This is a very convenient way for me to continue to learn. I really loved
    the format. This was a new topic for me and I will now research this more."

Thanks to the participants and Bill for the learning opportunity, the interactions, and a job well done! Join us for the second Watershed Dynamics Web Seminar scheduled to take place on February 16, 2006.


For more information contact webseminars@nsta.org

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Underwritten in part by NSTA Press