A Computer Program for use with Pace and Compass Exercises

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Journal of Geoscience Education




Although GPS technology has greatly improved in recent years it is still important to train students in traditional navigation skills with the Brunton compass. In addition to considerable pedagogic value inherent in such training, the compass can serve as a valuable backup to GPS. Within the geosciences the pace and compass traverse has been a common field technique for determining spatial coordinates of features in the field. However, students commonly find it difficult to separate graphical errors inherent in the technique from those associated with field measurements. The Pace program takes user-supplied azimuth and distance data and employs simple vector addition to determine the XY coordinates of successive stations in a traverse. This program provides a way for students to eliminate graphical errors, thereby allowing them to better gauge the true accuracy of their field data. Instructors can also use the program as a valuable means of helping students learn to differentiate between random and systematic errors in their field-data set. Ultimately, students should realize that multiple sources of error exist in most types of data and appreciate the importance of locating and minimizing such errors.


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