Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Summer Crew Update #7: Learning Mapping at the National Zoo

Contributing writer - Claire Carter, Summer Crew Team Member

Summer Crew members Claire Carter and Sarah Turner learn mapping from Director of Geographic Resources Tom Buckley.

Lions and tigers and bears were certainly all around us today as we made the trip to the National Zoo. However, for most of us it was the first time that we were studying the lindens, tulip trees, and birches throughout the zoo. It was amazing to realize that besides all of the exotic animals on display at the zoo, the diversity of the trees was beautiful. The trees were mature, well taken care of and helped to replicate a more natural habitat for many of the animals.

Arguably the most difficult part of the day was realizing that I had little to no command on the use of a compass, however, with Tom Buckley’s help my partner and I were quickly able to grasp a better command on using the compass only for navigation. We did both agree that the electronic GPS still would win the award for ease of use and familiarity. But to learn about the triangulation by hand was informative and makes me think I will be fine if I go hiking without technological assistance!

Navigating the zoo by paper and compass.

To finish up the day we headed back to the office, to learn about Walking Papers, a grassroots initiative to improve mapping around the world by submitting mapping data to Open Street Map (kind of a Wikipedia for maps). So the Summer Crew tried our hand at it and mapped the trees along the block of the Casey Trees office. We got to use the handy tape measure that converts the circumference of the trees to the diameter which is helpful to identify how healthy the tree is based on how old it is. Afterwards we input this data into the website and the Summer Crew has now contributed our part to an inventory of the Brookland neighborhood's trees.

Today was a great career development day which really showed how important the mapping of areas can be, especially in being able to keep track of the trees that we are watering and other trees throughout the city. And of course seeing the cute animals was a bonus!

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