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Satellite Imagery Techniques Taught to Upward Bound Students by Bencloski

Dr. Joseph W. Bencloski, professor of Geography and Regional Planning, participated in the Upward Bound Math and Science (UBMS) program on November 21, 2009. He presented a workshop titled “Up Close from Space: Using Satellite Images to Understand Earth’s Surface.”

The purpose of the UBMS program is to show local high school students how math and science are applied in everyday life and in different careers they may not have been exposed to.

Using Landsat digital images of Washington, D.C., and Indiana, Pa., Bencloski first taught students how to create color composites by assigning various Landsat bands to their computers’ red, green, and blue projectors. Students then used the Washington, D.C., image to create a land-use classification of the metro area using the unsupervised classification technique. Students mapped the classes and determined the percentage of the D.C. area comprising each class (e.g., water, parks, urban, etc.).

Using a Landsat image of Rondonia, Brazil, Bencloski taught the participants how to determine the extent and nature of tropical deforestation in that state. This exercise was particularly important to students because it showed them how satellite imagery can assist in solving a major environmental problem, namely the loss of biodiversity through deforestation.

The participants also studied the “urban heat island” effect for Indiana using a thermal image, and they studied the natural and human landscape of the Las Vegas area using radar imagery.

Bencloski said that he was impressed with the enthusiasm and interest displayed by the students, and the apparent ease with which they learned basic image interpretation skills.

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