Association of American Geographers
About AAG Membership Annual Meeting Projects & Programs Education Publications Calendar Of Events Jobs & Careers


GeoMentor Case Study:

Nettie Ginocchetti

& Daniel Yelito

City/State of School, School District, or Group: The SHINE After School Program is home to 8 schools within 5 school districts located in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.

Grade level of students you or your educator collaborator work/worked with: K-8

Subject/topic of class/group you assisted your collaborator with: The SHINE program, geared to grades K-8, focuses on a project-based STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) curriculum. SHINE links schools to homes to help children build a stronger academic and social foundation. The topics of discussion were Groundtruthing, Mobile Mapping, GIS, Drones, Esri Story Maps, Careers in GeoTechnologies and various disciplines within Geography.

Approximately how many students were engaged in GIS activities through this collaboration: Approximately 25 students were engaged in GIS activities across 8 different schools located in 5 school districts were visited by NEPA GeoMentors as we introduced over 150 students to ArcGIS mapping technology.

How did you connect with your collaborator? This collaboration is an ongoing effort. We are in our second year of GeoMentoring with the SHINE Program. We met in the summer of 2016 through a PennDOT Transportation Improvement Program Public Outreach Meeting where a representative for Senator John Yudichak was present. When I explained that I was a GeoMentor and we were in search of schools, students and teachers to partner with. The representative asked that I contact to Carol Nicholas Executive Director of the SHINE Program and since 2016 our collaboration has been monumental.

Describe your collaboration process. Throughout the 2017-2018 we communicated with SHINE representatives primarily through email on a monthly basis setting up dates and schools to visit in the SHINE Program. Depending on the time of year, technology available to us, the age of students and the school we planned to visit were factors in deciding which story maps we would review.

This collaboration was ongoing throughout the 2017 - 2018 school year beginning in the fall and wrapping up in the spring.

In addition to reviewing story maps, as we visited each SHINE location we printed out an aerial wall map of the campus which was studied by the students in order for them to gain a spatial understanding of their surroundings. Student's also received an 8.x11 map of their campus or them to take home as a souvenir.

Describe the tasks you assisted your collaborator with. Our situation is a bit unique where we have the opportunity to visit schools in the SHINE After School Program as guest speakers. Our collaboration with the after school teachers happens on the set and we essentially freestyle our GeMentoring tasks depending on the age of the class, technology that is available to us and the time of year.

What available resources, if any, did you use or help your collaborator use to implement GIS in K-12 education? We printed out the GeoMentor flyers an handed them to the students and teachers at each SHINE location we visited. We refereed to the Amazon HQ2 US Finalists story map on a number of occasions for students to review

Did you develop any new educational material or GIS activities through your collaboration? We developed a SHINE GIS Gallery that is home to some of the maps we demo in class. We review these maps with students to teach them basic mapping tools.

SHINE GIS Gallery:

SHINE Centers Locator:
Find A Food Pantry:
Adventures in GeoMentoring:
National Donut Day Dunkin Donuts in NEPA:
Lights On After School:

Crowdsource map examples include:
NEPA Pizza Review
Doodle Dogs Around the World:

What did you gain from the experience? What do you think your educator collaborator and/or the students gained? NEPA GeoMentors gained a new understanding to the the challenges we face in the education industry when it comes to Geography as priority. In Northeastern Pennsylvania it seems the Geography curriculum is becoming extinct. We feel that as GeoMentors it is our mission to shed light on the GIS industry by introducing students and teachers with next gen mapping tools that will be prepare a workforce of the future.

There is always something to gain when instructing, teaching or coaching children. We have always taken tons of knowledge with us when engaged with any student. One thing we’ve taken away, as all teachers do, is how difficult teaching really is. We always mention and talk about how exhausted we are after instructing young students. The students and educators gained the knowledge and the many uses of the GIS tool. The ESRI GIS software has endless educational applications and all the students and faculty have gained that understanding.

We hope the teachers and students have found a new way to learn and a new way to teach by means of Esri story maps.

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.
2017-2018 NEPA SHINE Story Map that documents each school visit with a description and picture gallery link.
2017 - 2018 SHINE Photo Gallery

Any additional comments about your experience? We are thankful for the opportunity to be GeoMentors and pray that one day we will make a difference in the lives of these students giving them a career option they didn't know existed.


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.