A Lesson in Geospatial Inquiry


Geospatial Inquiry is an educational framework that offers students an opportunity to engage with, and become curious about, geospatial data for a defined purpose. The authors define Geospatial Inquiry as: "Asking and answering a question through the analysis and communication of data that is linked to a geographic location on, above, or near Earth." (Rubino-Hare et al. 2017). Since Geospatial Inquiry is designed to evoke curiosity and engagement, students have multiple opportunities to seek information and explore ideas on how they see the world they live in. Geospatial Inquiry uses technology and data combined with inquiry-based teaching methods to enhance student learning (Claesgens et al. 2013). These data are often represented visually using maps. The six attributes of the Geospatial Inquiry process are: (1) examine data; (2) ask questions; (3) acquire additional data; (4) analyze and interpret data; (5) argue from evidence; and (6) revise arguments. Geospatial Inquiry helps students formulate and structure their interpretations of geospatial data into claims and arguments based on observation, critical thinking, and reflection. Not only are students given opportunities to express their understanding of data in interesting and creative ways, but they also become familiar with the nature of processing and visualizing data sets. To help provide an example of how to use Geospatial Inquiry, they have designed a climate change unit that teachers can use or modify to fit a more appropriate focus area. This unit incorporates two "Next Generation Science Standards" ("NGSS") under Earth's Systems and Earth and Human Activity.


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Brooke A. Whitworth
Lori A. Rubino-Hare
The Science Teacher
STEM Content and Standards
Publication Year
Environmental sciences