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Geographic information systems (GIS) are important technology that allows rapid study and use of spatial information. GIS have become increasingly prevalent in industry and the consumer/internet world in the last 20 years. Historically, the basis of GIS was in mapping, and so it is important to understand the basis of maps and how to use them as well as why they are different from GIS. In this lesson, students learn the value of maps, how to use maps, and the basic components of a GIS. They are also introduced to numerous GIS applications.