Projects

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Giant Terror Bunny

Geography 355 has taken on real-world (“theory into practice”) projects sinceI first taught the class back in the spring of 2000. For Spring 2014 we are going to focus on a series of projects that have been previously initiated and are linked to proposed expansion of the Environmental Studies Program (pdf) and Delaware and Campus area Sustainability Region (Map [pdf]).

Spring 2014 projects are described below (in brief). I want to give students in the class some choice about projects, but also see value in engaging in projects that are already established and some momentum. The projects will require students to collaborate with each other, students in other courses at OWU, other OWU faculty as well as community experts.

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1. Birds and Bird Ecosystems on and around Campus: Two local experts on birds, Dr. Jed Burtt (Zoology) and Richard Tuttle (retired Delaware schools science teacher) will collaborate with students. Work on this project entails data collection (including a large quantity of written records and assessing the feasibility of bioacoustic monitoring), assessment of birds and bird habitat on campus and in Delaware (including adjacent to several large retention ponds developed by the city of Delaware), and work on bird habitats on campus. For the latter, students will help develop and construct one or two chimney swift towers on the residential side of campus. Observational devices, linked by wireless or 3G technologies, will be installed in the towers, which will also be designed to allow for research on the effects of chimney swift poop (!) on plants.

2. Delaware Run Restoration and Monitoring: Delaware Run passes through agricultural, suburban and urban landscapes before passing along the north side of OWU’s campus and emptying into the Olentangy River. The Run and adjacent riparian areas have long been monitored and studied. The collapse of the retaining walls lining the Run near Sandusky St. has initiated a project to de-channelize the Run, removing retaining walls and creating a more natural riparian ecosystem. Students will collaborate with Kristin Piper, City of Delaware Watershed Coordinator, Peter Schantz, OWU’s Head of Buildings and Grounds, and, potentially, a local developer interested in donating labor and materials to restore the Run (in exchange for storm water credits). A project by several students in Geography 360, fall of 2013, completed some work on this project: Delaware Run Project BlogBesides further design and development of an ecologically sound plan for the Run along campus, students will develop a plan for water quality (and quantity) monitoring (with manual tests, and also with proposed real-time data water monitoring devices).

3. Heat Islands in Central Ohio & Environmental Effects: The fall 2013 campus visit by Dr. Marshall Shepherd, an expert in, among other things, urban heat islands, generated ideas for a collaborative course project between students in Geography 355 and students in Dr. Laurie Anderson’s Bio 344 Plant Communities and Ecosystems Course. This project will examine thermal remote sensing (satellite) data, temperature variations and heat islands in Franklin and Delaware Counties, ranging from the city of Columbus through the suburban and agricultural landscapes in Delaware County. The geography of temperature will be related to work by Dr. Anderson on the presence of invasive species (garlic mustard) and correlations between invasives and temperature variations will be studied. Additional correlations between urban heat islands and human and environmental characteristics will be reviewed.

4. Spatial Technologies and the Sustainability Region: Geographical Information Systems are technologies linked to concepts, useful for myriad applications. Environmental monitoring technologies are part of the three course projects above: monitoring of the chimney swift towers (video) and bird habitat at retention ponds (bioacoustics), Delaware Run (water monitoring devices), and invasive species and heat islands (remotely sensed thermal data). Group 4 will investigate integration of such environmental monitoring devices (and others devices, monitors and data) in GIS in the context of our Sustainability Region. An experimental quadcopter drone with imaging capability will be tested and evaluated for its applicability to the three projects (and other potential projects). Of particular interest is the use of near infrared imaging to assess vegetation and urban phenomena. In addition, a range of ESRI GIS software options will be evaluated: Community Maps, City Engine, ArcOnline, GeoDatabase, and Community Analyst.

  • Paul Kostyu in Journalism is interested in having his students learn more about drones/RI quadcopters and also mapping in general. We will contact these Journalism folks once we start to sort out details of this course project.

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Below find some old information related to projects in previous semesters of Geography 355.

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OWU Campus Sustainability Task Force

Second, projects related to the OWU Campus Sustainability Task Force. This group of faculty and students are investigating if OWU should sign the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. The Commitment itself requires adherence to a series of actions:

A. Establish a policy that all new campus construction will be built to at least the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Silver standard or equivalent.

B. Adopt an energy-efficient appliance purchasing policy requiring purchase of ENERGY STAR certified products in all areas for which such ratings exist.  [need data on what appliances are sucking energy; dryers in Smith; put up clothes-lines instead?]

C. Establish a policy of offsetting all greenhouse gas emissions generated by air travel paid for by our institution. [can we get the data for these jet-setters? Include other OWU funded transportation: sports teams, CLEAR, fieldwork, mission trips, environmental trips]

D. Encourage use of and provide access to public transportation for all faculty, staff, students and visitors at our institution [shuttles from Columbus [faculty, airport, Polaris/Downtown; on-campus shuttle [alternative fuel] from west to east campus [to eliminate students driving cars], rickshaw [person or bike powered; OWU buys rickshaw’s and students paid to haul people]

E. Within one year of signing this document, begin purchasing or producing at least 15% of our institution’s electricity consumption from renewable sources. [data issue; available alternatives; potential for solar or other renewable energy production on campus]

F. Establish a policy or a committee that supports climate and sustainability shareholder proposals at companies where our institution’s endowment is invested. [map out investments]

G. Participate in the Waste Minimization component of the national RecycleMania competition, and adopt 3 or more associated measures to reduce waste. [ties to several SNC projects]

Resources for taking these actions are here.

Some of these actions are not particularly relevant as course projects for us, but others are.  Our class projects could have an impact if we contribute to some short term actions.  The OWU Campus Sustainability Task Force must choose two of the seven actions above and work to implement them in the short term.  If OWU signs onto the agreement, we must take action in all seven areas.

The most significant overlap between existing campus green projects and the seven actions is with action G (waste minimization).  D and E have characteristics that mapping & GIS could be applied to.

Additional Resources

I have a pile of former Geography 355 projects, independent studies, etc. which may be of some value to our eventual class projects.  Some are good, some are crap:

Current and Past Studies in the OWU Preserves (with spatial data) by Lauren Blth (2006)

Mapping Fitness Trails by Will Crabtree (2006).  Will worked out a series of on and around campus running paths.  The maps are rough and would need to be recreated.

Delaware County Riparian Zone Land Use (2005) by Kampmann Kendall, Miller, and Steele

Air Emissions versus 2005 Delaware Population (2008) by Kim Sinclair

Delaware County Demographics: Income, Race, Education, Age, Population Density, Poverty (2008) by Wall, Hoffer, & Steffen

Environment & Pollution (focus on water resources) by Kim Martin (2008)

Environmental Polluters in Delaware (Martin, McLaughlin, & Pinault) (2008)

Agricultural Hazards in Delaware Co. by Steve Fowler (2008)

•••••

Due Wednesday February 14: Preliminary Project Proposal

Format:

Name of Project

Name of all participants & contact information

Date

1. Frame the Question(s): one sentence question(s) + one paragraph overview + one paragraph on final goal, intended audience, form of final project.

  • where are endangered ecosystems in Delaware County and how to they relate to areas of residential development?
  • where are potential recreational trail corridors in Delaware County that maximize access and usefulness as alternatives to driving?

2. Understand your Question(s): what do you have to know about the context of the question to answer it?

  • ex) What is an endangered ecosystem?  What are specific examples in Delaware? What defines a residential development?  How does the literature relate endangered ecosystems to development?  How does the Delaware case study relate to other studies
  • ex) What are the goals of recreational trails?  What are major impediments?  How is access defined?  How can trails be located so as to offer a viable alternative to driving?
  • what or who can help you to understand the issue: literature, people, who are the experts?

3. Locate your Data: if you don’t have data you can’t do the project

  • what data is available to help answer your question?  cost? compatibility?
  • what data do you have to generate yourself?  easy vs. difficult vs impossible
  • ex) Has anyone identified or mapped endangered ecosystems in Delaware?  Is their data available?  Is their data reliable? What format is it?  Is residential development data available for Delaware?  From who?  How current is it?  How to access it?  What format is it in?  Is it compatible with the ecosystem data?
  • ex) Are there any existing trails in Delaware?  Is data available?  Are there any data sets of potential or planned trails?  Who has this data?  What format is it in?  Where can one find data on population to relate to potential trails (to maximize access for the majority of people)?  Where can one find data on where people live vs. work, to determine trails that can serve as alternatives to driving?  Who has this data?  Is it compatible with existing trail data?

4. Analysis: choose a method for analyzing your data to answer your question

  • ex) generate endangered areas by comparing areas defined as important ecosystems to their closeness to recent development
  • ex) generate potential trails by generating important points and areas to connect; and determining feasible paths between those points; relate potential trails to property ownership and other factors

5. Present the Results:

  • generate a map (with a database) and use it to present results
  • map of endangered ecosystems in Delaware Co: distribute to ??
  • map of potential trails in Delaware Co.: planners, bike clubs, etc.
  • succinct report to present to people who can make project happen
  • vital part of the process: communication and advocacy
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