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GeoMentor Case Study:

Clark Nexsen Event - Pravin Mathur, Kate Chaney, Jose Carvalho, Janet Webster, Gene Corbell

Name of the School, School District, and/or Group you collaborated/are collaborating with: Grassfield High School – STEM Academy

City/State of School, School District, or Group: Chesapeake, VA

Grade level of students you or your educator collaborator work/worked with: Grassfield High School Rising Seniors (We also had sophomores and juniors, but they were not from Grassfield)

Subject/topic of class/group you assisted your collaborator with: GIS immersion

Approximately how many students were engaged in GIS activities through this collaboration: 9 students from Grassfield High School

How did you connect with your collaborator?  The initial partnership with Grassfield STEM Academy was introduced through an employee whose son attended the school. We have continued to partner with the Grassfield STEM academy each summer.

Describe your collaboration process. There is an initial information night for the students where they can meet with representatives from different firms/companies. The students are then allowed to sign up for the company they are interested in. A colleague met with the Department Heads to see how much time they can commit to mentoring the students each summer. Then they let the teacher/school know how many students we can accept each summer.

Describe the tasks you assisted your collaborator with. Clark Nexsen is a Multi-Disciplinary firm – Architecture, Civil Engineering, GIS, Transportation, Bridges, Wireless and Interiors. Each summer, Grassfield high school students enrolled in the STEM program are invited to our corporate office for a week of immersion. The STEM students meet for several hours with each department, to learn about how professionals in these fields do work their day-to-day projects.

The GIS Department and the Wireless Department had the students for a two-hour span. We divided our GIS information into four sections:
1. Basic Overview - What is GIS?, How many industries GIS supports, How GIS can be used to analyze data to solve problems, and How we use GIS at Clark Nexsen. Also, the components of GIS, a BASIC explanation of Map Projections, and images of GPS equipment. We then provide them with links to local colleges with Geospatial classes and programs with links to useful geospatial websites.
2. Introduction Videos: This year we added videos from the 2019 ESRI Users Conference. ‘See What Others Can’t’ ( and ‘The ESRI Geospatial Cloud’ (
3. GIS related Apps that are fun to use. We showed how we use the what3words free app ( during our demonstration - mostly for fun and adventure/social activities in our off hours, but also to assist us in foreign countries where there is a language barrier. We also demonstrated ESRI Storymaps and viewed a few public Storymaps created by other users.
4. Field Data Collection & Equipment Overview: A demonstration of some of our equipment we use in the field was presented– Leica Disto Laser Range finders for measuring building footprints (we let the students measure the room), the Trimble GPS units (more about this later) and the Tough Pads with Draft Site (a lite CAD program) and ArcGIS Desktop loaded. We were partnered with our Wireless Department and they demonstrated the Leica 360 Scanner a discussed the benefits of use and how the technology works.
We conveyed what makes the GPS equipment work, but also shared an example of how the equipment could be used to benefit our clients. Some examples covered were on the benefits of data produced by feature collection efforts and the sort of information one could assign to those points collected (attribution). The specific information could be customized to each consumer needs leveraged for;
a. Asset management (Know what you own)
b. Predictive maintenance (Know when to replace what you own and prepare for its costs)
c. Locational awareness of assets- (Know where your assets are to better navigate future facility infrastructure changes)
d. Develop Sustainable budget. (Knowing what you own, defines the costs to maintain those assets)
We also provided a project example where we were able to capture 154% more sustainable revenue dollars for our client based on the increase of assets collected that had not been collected before.


Our overarching goals were to engage the students, open their awareness to GIS, and show how they are already interacting with GIS without even realizing it (navigational apps). Most of the students were focusing on Engineering studies. We showed them GIS and the science behind engineering and other market sectors. We explained how we solve complex questions through the analyzing of spatial data. Once in college, Clark Nexsen offers them to return to us for their internships during the summer months. Once graduated from college, some of our interns have returned to start their careers with us.

What available resources, if any, did you use or help your collaborator use to implement GIS in K-12 education? We provide the ESRI links to the students in the follow-up email we sent after the event.

Did you develop any new educational material or GIS activities through your collaboration? No, a Geo-Locational Scavenger Hunt was planned, but bad weather occurred on the day of the presentations.

What did you gain from the experience? What do you think your educator collaborator and/or the students gained? Our GIS department gained a new perspective of how little the high school demographic is aware of GIS as a stand-alone technology field of study, how the Science of Where is at the forefront of so many industries, and how GIS plays a role in their daily lives.

We are hoping they gained a general understanding of GIS and how it can walk lock-step with the STEM industries they are interested in pursuing. We provided follow-up information on the colleges offering GIS programs and a sheet of helpful weblinks to Geospatial websites.

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