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K-12 experiential learning about landscape using geospatial STEM tools

Authors: Adam Mathews*, Western Michigan University, Lisa DeChano-Cook, Western Michigan University, Cindy Bloom, Comstock Middle School
Topics: Geography Education, Geographic Information Science and Systems, Drones
Keywords: geography education, K-12, STEM, geospatial technologies
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Experiential teaching and learning approaches have proven effective in a variety of teaching environments regardless of content area or age group. Specifically, the use of geospatial technologies have repeatedly been revealed to support students’ learning of geographic concepts while also providing a ‘fun factor’ to consistently engage students throughout class periods and from class period to class period. Cutting edge geospatial STEM tools such as drones (including drone-collected aerial images used to create 3D terrain data to visualize landscape) when coupled with other hands-on materials such as LEGOs and Play-Doh enable students to model landscape to better understand terrain and how it is mapped. The goals of this project are for K-12 students to: (1) gain an understanding of landscape, and (2) learn about how we use geospatial tools to examine and model Earth’s surface. Through direct instruction at Comstock Middle School in southwest Michigan (near Kalamazoo) throughout the 2019-2020 academic year, we collected assessment data (pre- and post-tests) to evaluate the degree to which these geospatial tools improved students’ knowledge of introductory geography concepts including mapping and terrain basics.

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