GeoMentor Case Study:
Name of the School, School District, and/or Group you collaborated/are collaborating with: Tucson Unified School District
City/State of School, School District, or Group: Tucson, Arizona
Grade level of students you or your educator collaborator work/worked with: K – 5th
Subject/topic of class/group you assisted your collaborator with:
K/1: Maps and Spatial Vocabulary
2/3: Maps and Data Collection
4/5: Mapping and Scale, Data Collection, and Analysis
Teachers: Professional development workshop on ArcGIS Online (with another GeoMentor, Tom M.) and hands on training using Survey 123 and Collector.
Approximately how many students were engaged in GIS activities through this collaboration: We are trying to reach all 420 students comprised of 16 classes. I have worked with 13 of the 16 classes so far.
How did you connect with your collaborator? I was walking in my child’s school and they had a huge map of the playground and the equipment usage in the hallway. I realized the kids and teachers were using GIS and maybe I could help. I walked into the classroom, introduced myself to the teacher, and asked if I could help in any way. Volunteering at the school is usually my best day of the week.
This is the mission statement for my child’s school: “A school where students learn to ask big questions and engage in authentic, real world learning to become change makers, creators of new knowledge and stewards of the earth.” Perfect for GIS.
Describe your collaboration process. We initially met and introduced the Outdoor Learning Teacher to GIS. We discussed how her projects directly connected to GIS and how we could extend student learning by including GIS in various ways. I showed her examples of story maps and building maps. She then set up time for us to work with the students, but she wasn't initially directly involved in the GIS teaching. It took her a year to get comfortable with integrating GIS into the classes; but once we participated in weekly meetings to discuss student projects, she really got engaged. After attending the ESRI education conference, she was fully onboard to expand student exposure to GIS. We meet weekly to either work on activities or have tutorials using Survey123, Collector, or other apps.
Available resources: We used ArcGIS, Collector, Survey123, and excel since she had very little experience with it. We also worked on tablets.
This year, I am at the school every Wednesday morning from 8-12. I meet with the Outdoor Learning Teacher for about 20 or 30 minutes before the first class comes. We also communicate by email in advance of the classes. These efforts are more of brainstorming activity for us than planning. Since the school’s approach is project based learning, we look at what the students are working on and devise plans and activities based on their projects directly.
• What is the project?
• What data needs to be collected?
• Is there a spatial need for the project?
• Is there technology we can use to facilitate data collection?
After that is done we come up with a plan for lectures, classroom/outdoor activities, and workshops for teachers.
Describe the tasks you assisted your collaborator with. We have held GIS Day at the school for the past 3 years. Last year, two other GeoMentors participated in GIS Day as well. Every grade level (K-5) has been introduced to ArcGIS Online and a GIS activity in some form or fashion. This year we were invited to Pima County GIS Fair to host a booth where the students demonstrated some of the GIS activities they completed over the past two years. The showed how they used ESRI Collector to collect data and pictures around the school using offline tablets. They also demonstrated the use of ArcGIS online to create web maps and apps. Their examples included a tour of the school gardens with various outdoor features and the milkweed garden where they are studying Monarch butterflies. A link to additional information about the Pima County GIS Fair featuring this school is provided at this link: Pima County 18th Annual GIS Fair
For the remainder of this year, we will be concentrating on data collection and presentation of the data. We have four long-term projects planned for the students:
1. Use Story Map and App Studio to create a spatial tour of the school for prospective parents and students to use.
2. Use Collector and ArcGIS Online to create a map and database of the school’s Gardens:
a. Milkweed Garden: Monarch butterfly observations
b. Community Garden: Crops and student activities within the garden
c. Classroom Gardens
3. Use ArcGIS Online App Builder to create an app for the school’s Environmental Learning Laboratory (BELL-3 acre outdoor education classroom on the campus).
4. Work with the Hiking Club (4th and 5th graders) on impacts to Saguaro National Park, both inside and outside the boundaries.
The students will be hosting Spatial Days in April 2016. They will invite the GIS community and share their spatial projects.
Did you develop any new educational material or GIS activities through your collaboration? We are currently developing Spatial Kits and Glossary. We would like to develop 30 minute activities for teachers for all grade levels. We also have templates for web maps of the school aerial (current and historic) and georeferenced scans of the school. A link to the school’s ArcGIS page is below: Borton Magnet School Spatial Labs
What did you gain from the experience? What do you think your educator collaborator and/or the students gained? I believe I am better consultant after working with kids. I’ve been forced to use a totally different vocabulary with a different audience. I’ve also learned new GIS programs such as ArcGIS Online, Collector, and Survey 123 for the school; now my company uses these tools every day as well. Without working with the school, the learning curve would have been much steeper. Working as a Geomentor has been an amazing experience. The kids just love using the technology and love solving problems. It’s the same reason I love GIS.
My educator collaborator and students gained invaluable experience with GIS, technology, data analysis, and problem solving. GIS allowed all involved to take their learning from basic projects to expand to sharing with the world. Students recognized learning connections to what they are studying now to what they can do for a career. The teacher found it incredibly valuable to show student learning to a larger audience. She also believes that GIS in elementary school is one of the best ways to expect more from students in their work and learning
If your GeoMentoring engagement activities were documented through a classroom blog, school website, group’s social media post, newspaper or other media, please provide the websites of those posts.
The school's ArcGIS page: Borton Magnet School Spatial Labs; Borton Magnet School's Facebook
Any additional comments about your experience? My daughter will be starting middle school next year so I would like the GIS exposure/education continue through to college (this supports a father’s pipe dream where I envision my daughter follows in my footsteps and goes into GIS as a career). In Tucson, we have open enrollment school choice, so setting up GIS tract is a little difficult but my goal would be GIS K-12. So I am trying recruit some other GeoMentors to work with middle school and a high school. I am reaching out to our Magnet Schools (Specialize in STEM, language, Fine Arts, etc.) that Focus in STEM that these students may choose to go after 5th grade.
Check out more case studies here!
If you're interested in submitting your GeoMentor experience for a case study, we would appreciate you doing so through this survey. The collected information will only be accessible to and used by AAG and Esri program staff and will not be further distributed or posted online unless you indicate your permission to do so.
Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.