Advancing Geospatial Thinking and Technologies in Grades 9-12: Citizen Mapping, Community Engagement, and Career Preparation in STEM
Forty urban students in grades 9-12 engage in citizen mapping of community challenges with geospatial technology to enhance their skills and awareness of STEM-related careers, resulting in curriculum piloted at urban, suburban, and rural schools.
Given recent advancements in geospatial technologies and the expanding geospatial technology industry, this project is timely in its focus on spatial thinking and strengthening geospatial technology skills among high school students. Students will investigate real world issues in the context of their own neighborhoods through citizen mapping activities. Students will use a variety of data collection devices, including GPS units, georeferencing cameras, and smartphones, along with secondary data, to investigate issues that students perceive as significant for their communities. Students will do field work on topics ranging from the distribution of grocery stores to environmental hazards and the conditions of local sidewalks, street lights and crosswalks, or other physical conditions impacting the community. Students will analyze their data and use on-line, open-source mapping applications to produce visualizations of the phenomena they are investigating.
This study includes students at an inner city high school in the Toledo, Ohio metropolitan area. Students will participate in summer workshops designed to introduce them to recent advances in geospatial technologies, especially in relation to understanding their communities and preparing them for the STEM workforce of the future. Students will be guided through the scientific processes of synthesis, analysis, and interpretation, and will input data they have produced as volunteered geographic information (VGI) into open-source mapping programs to produce maps for civic action that they will present to key individuals and organizations in the area. They will take a pre- and post-spatial thinking ability test (STAT) to assess changes in their spatial thinking knowledge and skills, as well as a pre- and post-sketch map of their neighborhoods to analyze changes in their perceptions of the community.