JMU’s ‘Geospatial Semester’ Program Receives International Exposure
Every summer, GIS professionals from all over the world come to San Diego, CA for ESRI’s International User’s Conference which features a week of presentations, technical workshops, paper talks and a worldwide map contest. The Plenary Session, which kicks off the event, includes a presentation from the company’s president, demonstrations of the latest software release, and features exceptional uses of GIS from around the world. Shortly after the president’s message, students from Washington-Lee High School (Arlington, VA) appeared on stage presenting their technical work in front of 14,000 GIS professionals.
On stage, the Washington-Lee students highlighted three projects that showed off both their technical skills and their ability to solve real world problems. Sarah Chase-Walsh and Noah Pilchen demonstrated a mobile application that would allow a local storm water specialist to identify which storm sewers had been marked with ‘No Dumping’ signs from her phone. Mary O’Connor used 3D visualization to analyze and understand how metro stations influence local development and the amount of impervious surfaces. Albert Marquez showed off work he performed for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service—using remote sensing to identify wetlands that exist in government land easements. All projects tackled complicated, real-world issues and were executed by students who had just one year of training in high school.
Charlie Fitzpatrick, ESRI’s Schools Program Manager, blogged, “Their work was so real, so powerful, and so like what GIS professionals do that the demos were sifted in among those by other users, instead of isolated as a special student group.”
Ryan Miller, the instructor at Washington-Lee High School, told the crowd, “I use Problem Based Learning [PBL] in the classroom. It’s taking what you do as GIS Professionals and taking and bringing some of that into the classroom….There’s meaning and there’s purpose in doing this and the students tell me, and I believe them, that its rewarding and motivating to do actual project work.”
Charlie Fitzpatrick notes that Washington-Lee is a good school with bright and inquisitive students with a masterful teacher but points out “…the model of PBL with GIS used by these and hundreds of students across the Virginia Geospatial Semester program is the real star.”
Later at the conference, Dr. Bob Kolvoord, Interim Dean of the College of Integrated Science and Engineering accepted an ESRI SAG (Special Achievement in GIS) Award on behalf of ‘GIS in K-12 Education in Virginia’ and James Madison University from ESRI’s president Jack Dangermond.
Washington-Lee HS is one of 18 schools in Virginia participating in James Madison University’s Geospatial Semester program. This program, created by Dr. Bob Kolvoord and Kathryn Keranen, is an innovative dual enrollment partnership with JMU that allows high schools to host GIS-based classes that will earn students college credit. In its 8th year, this program focuses on students building spatial thinking as they learn and apply cutting edge technology to explore and solve real life issues. According to Kolvoord, “The Geospatial Semester helps students transition from high school to college or the world of work. The Washington-Lee students are great exemplars of the work going on in districts across Virginia.”
For more information on the Geospatial Semester Program, visit its website at http://www.isat.jmu.edu/geospatialsemester/index.html or contact Bob Kolvoord firstname.lastname@example.org or Paul Ritenhouse email@example.com
For more information about the Virginia K-12 GIS Site License Consortium which is hosted by James Madison University, visit its website http://gs.cisat.jmu.edu/software/ or contact Paul Rittenhouse.
- ISAT Class of 2013 Photogallery
- ISAT welcomes Dr. Stephen Marrin and Dr. Edna Reid. They will join the IA Program in preparation for the start of Fall Term 2013.
- Best wishes to Dr. Joe Marchal as he retires in June from JMU.
- Congratulations to Dr. Noel Hendrickson! As of June 1, he will become the new Director for the IA Program.
Dr. Bob Kolvoord, Professor in the Department of Integrated Science and Technology (ISAT) and Interim Dean for the College of Integrated Science and Engineering (CISE), had a unique opportunity to serve as a GIS ambassador to students and teachers in Ghana. Read Story >