What is the Digital Atlas of Idaho?

The Digital Atlas of Idaho Project (DAI) delivers natural history information to a variety of audiences, including K-12 educators, college students, agency personnel, businesses, non-governmental organizations, and the public at large. It is available online and on compact disc. It contains detailed written descriptions of Idaho's natural history, photographs, maps, sounds, and glossaries.

The Digital Atlas of Idaho project is a comprehensive, GIS-based, interactive Atlas of Idaho, with links to the Idaho Geological Survey (IGS) and Idaho State University (ISU) College of Education Web Sites. The project uses expertise from ISU, Boise State University (BSU), the Idaho Museum of Natural History (IMNH), and the IGS. The project builds on a 1997 joint Technology grant to ISU's (http://giscenter.isu.edu/) and BSU's (http://earth.boisestate.edu/gis/) GIs Teaching and Research Labs, and the Idaho Virtual Campus.

The Digital Atlas is a growing project, and has been developed through a number of phases. Below is a description of the existing phases.

Phase 1:
The primary goal of the Digital Atlas of Idaho is the integration of data on geology, hydrology, biology, climatology, and anthropology onto a common digital map base. Using the Digital Atlas will help Idaho students and educators better understand the spatial relationships between earth-science, life-science, and anthropological phenomena. The Digital Atlas provides a teaching and learning tool comprised of multiple data sets, maps and digital textbooks. These have been integrated and cross-referenced for southern Idaho using ArcView GIS and GUI applications developed with Visual Basic and Map Objects software, and Hypertext Mark-Up Language (HTML). Materials and teaching modules can be accessed with any Internet browser (Netscape, Internet Explorer), and the Atlas' Graphical User Interfaces (GUI's) require little computer experience or ArcView background for the end-user. These user-friendly applications are designed to educate and inform both teacher and student, and invite further exploration.

The Atlas contains several sets of climatological, geological, hydrological, geographical and biological information about Idaho - focusing on the area south of the Salmon River. The project developers used digital data from the Columbia River Ecosystem GIS as an informational foundation. GIS-based data is accessible to beginning users via Cadviewer - an easy to use Java applet. It includes:

* Topography
* Roads
* Rivers
* Counties
* Cities
* Hydrologic Unit Codes
* and much more!

Project data also comes from the books "Rocks, Rails and Trails", "Guidebook to the Geology of Eastern Idaho" and the "Digital Atlas of Idaho's Wildlife." A normal web browser interface supplies both beginning and advanced users with access to data sets which include:

· Surface and subsurface geology
· Hydrology of the Snake River Plane
· Terrestrial vertebrate predicted species distribution maps
· Details about reptiles, amphibians, butterflies, and the showy insects

In addition, advanced users have access to GIS data sets dealing with geography, surface and subsurface geology, seismic activity, hydrology, and terrestrial vertebrate and insect ecology using ArcView and ArcExplorer Graphical-User-Interfaces (GUI).

By incorporating a wide range of relevant databases, color maps, and links between information, the DAI will be of immediate use to several Idaho State University and Idaho Virtual Campus courses, as well as both elementary and secondary students and educators. The Atlas affords quick and efficient access to a variety of digital teaching resources and information. The ISU College of Education also provides workshops on using the Digital Atlas of Idaho, and independent workshops are also available. CD-ROMS are available to educators at no cost. Companion help documentation is included. Public access can be obtained through a touch-screen kiosk hooked to the Atlas at the Idaho Museum of Natural History or via the DAI Web Site.

The Atlas makes large amounts of information readily available. Users with more GIS experience can access, view, and search the GIS maps and data via ArcView GIS software. Alternative methods of instruction are integral to its use, and are, in fact, the motivation behind the project. Classroom-relevant teaching resources and information are easily accessible on the DAI so teachers are free to develop new and better teaching methods that integrate this information. The availability of this geographic Atlas on CD-ROM and the Web provides greater access to updated educational programs across the state. The Digital Atlas is designed to be used at all grade and skill levels. Both guided and independent projects are possible.

Exploration of the DAI and projects therein range from simple to complex. Teaching modules are designed to be flexible to the needs of the educator, and useful for students of all levels. Finer levels of challenge are available for students depending on the complexity of the selected exercise parameters. Although exercises are grouped into subject areas, many are interdisciplinary and involve information from all of the Atlas' subject areas. Elementary School students will enjoy learning about Idaho through exploration of the DAI. Middle School students can focus on particular regions or subjects, and complete projects using only materials found on the Atlas. High School and University students can develop projects involving additional research and source material external to the Atlas.

Just remember, the teaching modules located on the Atlas CD-ROM and Web Site are only a sampling of the available possibilities! Use them as a starting point to generate your own ideas and exercises as you become familiar with the resources available. If you are using the CD-ROM, remember to visit the Atlas Web Site periodically as new material and modules will be added on-line. The Web Site also provides access to additional databases and GIS coverage not found on the CD-ROM.

Phase 2:
GIS Coverage and extended information also offer many new teaching resources. Lesson plans and handouts are organized by grade level and subject and are rated by Achievement Standard Codes. A new look and improved navigation and organizational system will also be implemented. An archaeology section will also be assembled. In the Biology section, nodules on Dragonflies, Damselflies, Plants, and Fish are being created and added. Updates will supplement existing species accounts as will great new imaging! Keep checking in at the Atlas Web Site to see the progress!

Home | Site Index | Contact Us | Links