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Lab 3: Geographical Information Systems (GIS)


This lab is designed to teach you about the basic capabilities of a GIS tool, in this case MyWorld. MyWorld comes bundled with a number of layers (data sets) and makes it easy to add additional data sets. While we'll use MyWorld for a global analysis it is equally possible to use it for much more local work.

The learning objectives for this lab are:

For this lab you will use the following data sets: total population, population density, projected population, male and female population, and age specific population.

Lab Groups

For this lab you will pair-up with one other person, the only restriction is that your lab partner cannot be your lover or a relative. Since there are 13 of us one group will have 3 people.

Learning How to Use MyWorld GIS

1. Setup your environment:

2. Work through the following tour:

Lab Assignment

Use MyWorld to study world population and how population characteristics vary between countries. Summarize your findings in a report (wiki or word processing document) with at least 6 images.

Each section should have a title, the question you are exploring, the image or images you used to examine it, and a paragraph or two describing what the image shows in terms of answering the question.

Your report should include answers to the following questions:

  1. What are the developing countries and the developed countries? Use a visualization of GDP as an indicator. Click on the down arrow of the Countries box and a menu appears that allows you to select GDP per capita to visualize. Double click on the word "Countries" of the Countries box and select Rainbow for the color scheme, number of fill colors as 20, and Classify by Natural Breaks, then click Apply. Summarize what this image indicates in your own words.
  2. What are the 10 most populated countries in the world?
  3. Which 10 countries have the greatest population density?
  4. Which countries have the greatest population growth?
  5. Do developing countries typically have larger or smaller growth than the developed countries?
  6. Identify 4 other questions that can be investigated by the data provided by MyWorld which are of interest to you. Clearly identify each question and present your findings including data visualization images that help you answer each question.

Choose one of your question/answer pairs and check the accuracy of the data provided by MyWorld GIS. You can find the source of each data set through MyWorld's interface, take that and find the data set on-line to confirm that it was transcribed correctly. Find another source of that same data and compare some of the individual values. Describe the process, sources, and results in a section titled Data Quality Analysis.

Neatness and organization count, significantly.

Lab notebooks


The basic idea for this lab, the questions posed, and the data sets employed come from R.M. MacKay's (Clark College) exercise Visualizing World Population. This is published as a part of Carleton College's SERC Pedagogic Service Project.

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