Lesson Plan and Materials: Story Maps



Story Maps support an innovative approach to combine mapping visualization with narrative text, images, and multimedia content. This training will integrate mapping and science communication to support the application of a spatial storytelling platform. This hands-on lab was developed to introduce students to the concept of creating effective story maps, why story maps are useful for communicating scientific information, and the challenges associated with creating story maps. By engaging in hands-on training with geospatial data, digital content, and the story map platform, students will learn how to create effective story maps. 

The overarching goals of this training are to:

  • Introduce the capabilities of Story Maps for individual projects to publish and effectively combine online mapping visualization with multimedia content.
  • Students will first be led through a hands-on Story Map lab and have time to create a draft Story Map to communicate the spatial data sets, information, images and video about a project of their choice.


The general agenda for this training is:

  • Story Map as an effective science communication tool
  • Introduction to key terms, concepts, general example Story Maps
  • Story Map applications
  • Story Map demo
  • Step-by-step exercise for Monterey Story Map
  • Science communication norms and content creation
  • Story Map Step by Step – Individual project time


By participating in this training, students will:

  • Be able to explain key terms and concepts related to ESRI Story Maps
  • Develop an understanding for the potential of this new place-based science communication tool as it relates to their own work
  • Develop and design a simple Story Map and apply principles of scientific communication
  • Troubleshoot issues and problems associated with using the Story Map online mapping platform



11-12th Grade/Undergraduate/Graduate; students in geospatial related studies



Web Mapping, Cartography, Scientific Communication



  1. Story Map Presentation  PPT | PDF
  2. Story Map Lab   PDF | DOC
  3. Story Map Data   ZIP



3 hours



Common Core State Standards for Reading in Science and Technical Subjects: Grades 11-12

Standard 2.     Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; summarize complex concepts, processes, or information presented in a text by paraphrasing them in simpler but still accurate terms.

Standard 7.     Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., quantitative data, video, multimedia) in order to address a question or solve a problem.

Standard 9.     Synthesize information from a range of sources (e.g., texts, experiments, simulations) into a coherent understanding of a process, phenomenon, or concept, resolving conflicting information when possible.



Principle 1.   The Earth has one big ocean with many features

  1. Although the ocean is large, it is finite, and resources are limited


Principle 6.  The ocean and humans are inextricably interconnected

  1. Humans affect the ocean in a variety of ways. Laws, regulations, and resource management affect what is taken out and put into the ocean. Human development and activity leads to pollution (point source, nonpoint source, and noise pollution), changes to ocean chemistry (ocean acidification), and physical modifications (changes to beaches, shores, and rivers). In addition, humans have removed most of the large vertebrates from the ocean.
  1. Everyone is responsible for caring for the ocean. The ocean sustains life on Earth and humans must live in ways that sustain the ocean. Individual and collective actions are needed to effectively manage ocean resources for all.



Lisa Wedding, Ph.D.

Winn McEnery, M.Sc.

Kristen Weis, Ph.D.

Laura Good, Ph.D.


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