The SAGUARO (pronounced “sah-wah-roh”) project (Science and GIS: Unlocking Analysis and Research Opportunities) grew out of our belief that it was easier and more engaging to learn GIS skills while investigating a scientific problem than mastering GIS skills and then tackling a scientific investigation. This Teach with GIS rather than Teach about GIS approach has been very successful in getting novice GIS users (both the instructors and their students) to explore current problems and issues in Earth system science using real data and powerful analysis tools. As an outcome, most students develop sufficient GIS skills to pursue their own investigations within or as an extension of the prepared curriculum.

Our original project, funded under National Science Foundation grants 9553841, 9809704, 9980958, 9986613 and 0442136 resulted in four Earth system modules covering topics in oceanography, plate tectonics, the hydrologic cycle and water resources, and tropical cyclones. These were developed simultaneously for both introductory college science courses and high school science courses.


Ea4f1rth Science Investigations using GIS: College version

The college level modules are available through
Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning and use
ESRI ArcView 3.2 and ArcGIS 9.x.





Earth Science Investigations using GIS: High school version

The high school modules are available through
Delmar Cengage Learning for ArcView 3.x or Arc 9.x.




SAGUARO Curriculm

We have written about our curriculum development process and our evaluation of student learning and impact on spatial visualization in the following articles.

  • Teaching introductory Earth science with a GIS
    Hall-Wallace, M.K., Walker, C.S., Wallace, T.C., and Butler, R.F., EOS Transactions, American Geophysical Union, 83(31), 333, 339, and 340, 2002.