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GeoMentor Case Study:

James Kernan

City/State of School, School District, or Group: Geneseo, NY
Grade level of students you or your educator collaborator work/worked with: Seventh grade accelerated science students and college undergraduate mentors.
Subject/topic of class/group you assisted your collaborator with: The
project is related to the invasive insect species, emerald ash borer. College geography majors work with seventh grade accelerated students to map and measure ash trees on the school grounds and a nearby nature preserve. The data is entered into ArcGIS, and students map and conduct a basic GIS risk analysis for the trees. The seventh graders have presented their work the school math, science, and technology fair, and to the local school board.
Approximately how many students were engaged in GIS activities through this collaboration: The project has run every fall since 2011. Approximately 30 college students and more than 100 seventh graders have participated. The high school acquired ArcGIS for their computer lab in 2013.
How did you connect with your collaborator? I approached Randy French with the idea, and we developed the program together.
Describe your collaboration process. In summer 2011, we met several times for a total of three or four hours. I designed the field sampling protocol and GIS analysis, and Randy designed a curriculum (lectures and reading) that supported the project and aligned with New York state learning outcomes. Since 2011, we have met each August for an hour to arrange the schedule of activities.
Describe the tasks you assisted your collaborator with. I presented the idea for the project and the technology expertise. I worked with Randy on basic GIS competence, and he subsequently acquired the software for his computer lab. I also provide GIS training workshops for New York state's Master Teachers program, and Randy attends those sessions.
What available resources, if any, did you use or help your collaborator use to implement GIS in K-12 education? During the first two years, the seventh graders came to the college and worked in the GIS Laboratory in the Geography Department. After Randy acquired the software, we now do the work at the school.
Did you develop any new educational material or GIS activities through your collaboration? It was part of our vision, but we have not had the time or resources to "package" the program.
What did you gain from the experience? What do you think your educator collaborator and/or the students gained? My own teaching and research interests have shifted toward more field-based and inquiry-driven work. I recently submitted a proposal to study the efficacy of college mentors on informal STEM learning with middle and high school students. College participants and seventh graders have communicated higher levels of interest and engagement in geography and GIS.
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.


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