The summer research project described in this chapter can serve as a model for the introduction of a spatial approach to problem solving in a multidisciplinary setting. This example demonstrates that even undergraduate students can collect, analyze, and build web applications for relevant spatial databases. It also demonstrates the importance of having a campus GIS support group to guide projects, train the students in technical skills, and enable them to share their results through an ArcGIS Online based web app. Involvement in the summer project prompted the students to pursue degrees in geography, economics and environmental studies, and computer science and biology. By gathering their own spatially explicit biological data, the students learn fundamental skills that cross the STEM disciplines, such as measurement, cataloging, data standards, and problem-solving. They were able to complete each step of the project from field collection, database design, analysis, and publication of a web site. The authors believe that it is critical at a small liberal arts school to provide students with the opportunity to visualize abstract processes of biodiversity change, gain experience quantifying biomass and carbon storage, evaluate the impact of tree loss on carbon budget and biodiversity, and place those local observations in the context of global processes.

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