MapTEACH: Place-based Geospatial Learning and Applications in Rural Alaska
In rural Alaska, 160 secondary students, mostly Native Alaskans, and 16 teachers are gaining hands-on experience with spatial technology (GPS, GIS, and remote sensing imagery) in a culturally responsive geoscience education program.
The collaborative MapTEACH team is developing a culturally responsive geoscience education program for middle- and high-school students in Alaska that emphasizes hands-on experience with spatial technology (GPS, GIS, and remote sensing imagery). The project draws upon the combined expertise of teachers, education researchers, remote sensing specialists, geoscience professionals, Native Elders, and others with traditions-based knowledge, and will be piloted in the Minto-Nenana, Nome, and Fairbanks areas. Participants work directly with DGGS geologists, and authentically emulate scientific activities at a novice level, using real data in a real-world setting. Students and teachers have access to locally and culturally relevant geospatial IT curriculum facilitated by web-served imagery, geographic information systems data, analysis tools, and field kits available for checkout. Introducing students to geoscience and geospatial technology in culturally responsive and stimulating classroom and field settings enhances community understanding of landscape processes and natural hazards in rural Alaska. It also foster an appreciation of state-of-the-art technology tools and data sets that can be applied to informed community planning and decision making. At the same time, incorporating cultural knowledge into IT-intensive studies serve as a bridge between old and new perspectives on the natural landscape and highlight the continued relevance of traditional teachings in the modern world.