The direct beneficiary of GEOEarthKAM will be the geography education community if we develop a cadre of teacher consultants who can disseminate inquiry-based, remote sensing environmental geography that excites students about geography and the world.
A second beneficiary of GEOEarthKAM will be the geography students who take part in an EarthKAM mission at one of the three scheduled opportunities in 2003-2004 or 2004-2005. During a mission (usually 3-4 days in duration) students work in teams to select and request image targets. In order to select a target, students determine the path of the ISS (applying considerable geographic skills such as map interpretation, latitude/longitude etc.), select a target location for an image related to a geographic question they propose, check the weather conditions at the location to make sure it will not be obscured by clouds, check again to make sure the target image will be accessible by the ISS camera during daylight, and send in their request to Mission Control on the campus of the University of California at San Diego (UCSD). From there, requests from schools across the nation are transmitted to the ISS Mission Control at Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, and then to the camera on the ISS. The captured digital images are immediately downloaded into the EarthKAM Datasystem at the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) in Pasadena, California, and posted on the web for each group of students to see their image.
EarthKAM is a richly structured experience consisting roughly of three parts:
- a preparation phase where students learn how to target, read and interpret remotely sensed images, and to ask and answer significant inquiry questions;
- the actual Mission described above, and
- an analysis/reporting/reflection phase in which the students analyze and annotate the image they requested.
In addition to the three phase inquiry experience, EarthKAM offers educators and students a remarkable resource of thousands of annotated remotely sensed images with which to conduct geographic/environmental research.