User Tools

Site Tools


ACTIVITY 1: Balloon Mapping

Introduction: The overall goal for all Community Science in the ECV is to build power in youth to advocate for improved Environmental Health. This lesson gives youth the data gathering and some advocacy skills to collect geo-referenced images that can help show the environmental changes happening in the ECV. Because of the lower amounts of water coming into the Salton Sea, the shoreline is expected to retreat significantly in the next 20 years. While it will not be as noticeable on the east and west sides of the Sea, the north and south will see a large amount of shoreline retreat. This will in term expose hundreds of acres of playa, which could lead to higher dust emissions if not mitigated. What is the future? What are our goals?

Learning Outcome When you complete this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Use GIS data as a tool to advocate for improved community health outcomes.
  • Create an advocacy message using maps derived from aerial photography (e.g. kite, balloon or drone mapping).
  • Understand the main issues threatening Environmental Health and the Salton Sea.
  • Build confidence to use Environmental Map Data to advocate for the community.



Assemble the balloon kit

  • Tie the string to a carabiner with double overhand knot;
  • Tie the other end (5th or so) to something heavy like 1 gallon jug full of water - so your balloon won't fly away as you are working;
  • Tie the clip swivel to the reel of kite string with the same knot;
  • Pull the balloon neck through the ring;
  • Put the helium tank in a stable position, preferably laying on the ground;
  • Cable tie the balloon o the helium tank. The balloon neck may need to be folded and squeezed tight. Continue holding on to your balloon;
  • When done filling, push helium out of the neck and close with a cable tie just below the balloon.
  • Release nozzle cable tie;
  • Fold the neck over onto itself and around the ring. Attach two more cable ties and pull tight;
  • Attach ring to the mooring point.

Install a good camera or phone with a timer

  • Make sure your camera has enough batteries to last for the time of the activity and containing a large memory card (a 4GB card fills with about 35 minutes);
  • Turn on your camera and make sure to put the camera to trigger a photo every 5 seconds;
  • Put the camera on the picavet and make sure it is safely fixed;
  • Determine how you will trigger the camera (we suggest an app on the smartphone).

Site to map

  • Has to be within at least five miles from an airport (check about the regulations yourself);
  • Check the area for trees, flag poles, the wind, or any other obstacles that may come up;
  • Bring enough string to get a good altitude;
  • Maneuver your balloon at your site.

Bringing the balloon down

  • Pull the string back until you can reach the balloon;
  • Get your camera from the picavet;
  • Get the air out of the balloon and disassemble the kit.

Download and sort your images on your desktop. Make them into a map with Mapknitter

  • Start with uploading your base image and upload it into MapKnitter by dragging it onto the map or clicking Upload;
  • Place your image over the map so it aligns as closely as it can with the base images;
  • Once your base image is set and locked, upload another image that shows a part of your site that abuts the base image. They should overlap slightly;
  • Repeat the previous steps until your map is complete and shows all of the site you were hoping to map.

Results: Download the images collected on your computer. We can sync our GIS activities with the Storytelling track when they train youth on photography and visual arts. We can create an art piece that can tell the stories of the Coachella Valley through the images we collect.

activities.txt · Last modified: 2019/05/28 16:31 by jwood