University Geography faculty and club volunteers share excitement of GIS Day geospatial technologies with Western Michigan area middle school students

Authors: Leah Anderson*, Grand Valley State University, Kin Ma, Grand Valley State University, Jonathan Forbes*, Grand Valley State University
Topics: Geographic Information Science and Systems, Geography Education
Keywords: GIS, geospatial technology transfer, community outreach
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This research was conducted to share the world of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and geocaching with young adolescents. The main objective was to improve the geographic literacy of West Michigan area middle school students, specifically Shawmut Hills and West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science schools, who have not had the opportunities to learn about geography and geospatial technologies in depth. Since 2014, Grand Valley State University’s Geography and Sustainable Planning Department has collaborated with the undergraduate student organization, the Association of Student Geographers, to host GIS Day educational activities with the middle schools referenced above. This study highlights GIS Day, a community outreach program that allows students to experience hands-on educational activities including geocaching using a Garmin GPS receiver, and an Introduction to the ArcGIS 10.4 mapping program, to identify and map global cities. This study aims to also cultivate excitement about higher education through student-volunteer interactions during the geocaching field exercise. A brief 5-question survey was completed to determine student satisfaction of educational activities. The survey questions were on a Likert scale, ranging from “Strongly Disagree” to “Strongly Agree.” Two hundred survey response data was collected for the past four years, which included information about the student’s favorite task and why, whether students enjoyed GIS Day, how the group leaders and volunteers felt about their geocache leading/mentoring experiences, and potential improvements. The questions had open spaces for additional comments. From 2014 to 2018, 85% of survey results have been consistently and overwhelmingly positive.

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