By gathering data on marine turtles, scientists have evidence that helps them work out where turtles migrate and the journeys they take. Scientists can then help to reduce the threats to the turtles’ survival. In this lesson we look at satellite tracking using real scientific data. Explore ways to model, interpret, represent and present data.
This lesson was created and developed in partnership with Pawsey Supercomputing Centre and Western Australian Marine Science Institution (WAMSI) Kimberley Marine Research Program.. Turtle data was sourced from the WAMSI project, which is funded by the Western Australian State Government and research partners. Data is licensed under the Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 2.5 AU licence.
Image credit: USFWS Photo/Alamy Stock Photo
Compare students’ manually plotted map with the same data, imported as a csv file, into an online map such as Google My Maps. Do this as a class, on a large screen, as a way to introduce them to the basics of online mapping software. By rolling over each icon, determine the date of the plotting, and infer the direction of a turtle’s journey. Use the onscreen ruler to measure the distance travelled. (The turtle starts at Exmouth in Western Australia and travels along the coast to around Thursday Island in Queensland, taking approximately 6 months a distance of over 3,500km).
Loggerhead turtle satellite tracking data mapped on Google My Maps.
Image credit: Map © Google LLC
Provide students with four spreadsheets to map using online mapping software such as Google My Maps (this requires students to have their own Gmail account). Alternative online mapping software include National Map and Google Earth. National Map is a simple tool to visualise data. Google Earth allows users to render a 3D representation of Earth, viewing data from different angles.
You can import your own data which is ideal for our purpose. All you need is data with columns organised into latitiude and longititude as these are the headings that the mapping software recognises. Data is provided in two formats: csv and kml.
Note that the Ningaloo Loggerhead turtle – Nicki 76034 data displayes best in Google My Maps.
Share students’ analysis of the different species’ migratory data. A scientist’s description has been provided for background with a website link to show how the map should look.
Digital Technology focus
In Digital Technologies, students need to interpret data. To do this it helps to organise the data in some way; for example, in a table under relevant headings. In this spreadsheet, GPS data is provided as longitude and latitude. Students can visualise the data using online mapping software, and can look for patterns or trends. When presenting data to reveal information, students can use these to convey meaning.
This lesson integrates scientific and geographic understanding and skills.