NAGT > Teaching Resources > Teaching Activities > EarthTutor: An Earth Science Imagery Tutor

EarthTutor: An Earth Science Imagery Tutor

Aaron Bell
Stottler Henke Associates, Inc.
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EarthTutor is a NASA-sponsored plugin for the ImageJ image processing software. EarthTutor is an "Intelligent Tutoring System", educational software that employs artificial intelligence techniques, that teaches students how to process and analyze satellite imagery related to diverse earth science subjects, such as: oceanography, polar ice, natural hazards and global vegetation. EarthTutor guides the student, monitoring him or her at each step, and provides tailored feedback to meet the student's individual needs.



Advanced high school earth science students (e.g. AP Environmental Science) or undergraduate earth science students.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered:

Students should be introduced to the electromagnetic spectrum, reflectance, satellites, and satellite instrument sensor bands. For background on these subjects, teachers can visit a NASA website:

How the activity is situated in the course:

Lab component or homework (for the students to install on their home/dorm computers)

National or State Education Standards addressed by this activity?:

A: Develop the ability to do science inquiry
D: Understand energy in Earth systems
F: Understanding issues of environmental quality
G: Understand science as a human endeavor
G: Understand the nature of scientific knowledge


Content/concepts goals for this activity:

Understanding, processing and analyzing satellite imagery. In each lab the student learns to measure, calibrate, color, slice, plot and otherwise process and analyze earth science imagery.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity:

Observing, inferring, communicating, measuring, interpreting data

Other skills goals for this activity:

Using an image processing program (which has many other applications)

Description of the activity/assignment

EarthTutor is packaged with four courses, which turn contain labs. Each lab requires about 45min for an average student to complete. The courses cover these four topics: oceanography (in which students correlate at sea surface temperature, wind, and chlorophyll data), polar ice (in which students look at sea ice concentration data), natural disasters (students look at weather and EM data), and global vegetation (students look at classification data and compute vegetation indices).

Determining whether students have met the goals

EarthTutor provides immediate feedback to students as they proceed through labs. A report card is provided to the teacher after a student completes a lab.

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Other Materials

Supporting references/URLs

Controlled Vocabulary Terms

Subject: Environmental Science, Geoscience
Resource Type: Activities:Lab Activity
Grade Level: College Upper (15-16), High School (9-12), College Lower (13-14)
Ready for Use: Ready to Use

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