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 Jamie Pettit
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From: Monday, February 8, 2016 4:02 PM -0500
Subject:Students Developing GIS Technology Skills
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Technology combined with hands-on experiential learning has elevated student engagement and interest in geography / geomatics to exciting new levels at Chesley District Community School.  Through incorporating practical geographic information system (GIS) learning activities into the school’s geography curriculum, junior and senior students are benefiting from participation in collaborative group field work projects aimed at developing basic skills in the areas of research, spatial analysis and digital mapping.  

The school’s unique approach to inquiry based learning through the use of GIS can be attributed to the dedicated efforts and leadership of geography teacher Cory Munro.  Diverse and multi-faceted projects initiated in his classroom have allowed students to play an active role in applying newly acquired knowledge to their local and global surroundings.  This includes identifying potential areas for improvement when it comes to community safety, such as analyzing the distribution of fire hydrants in Chesley or assessing ambulance response times in Bruce County.  Last year, Mr. Munro was successful in a grant application to the Ministry of Education, which resulted in real-life experiences for his grade 12 geomatics students through field trips to Toronto, Owen Sound and Bruce Peninsula National Park.  A possible future project may include getting grade 11 students involved in mapping out items related to the local tourism industry.
      
As impressive as these distinct enrichment opportunities to acquire invaluable new life skills are, the scope of class projects isn’t only confined to areas that are within local and regional borders.  A study and analysis by grade 12 students of the challenges surrounding water access for schools in the Kibera Slum located in Kenya is a prime example of this.          

"Geospatial technologies provide a fantastic opportunity for connecting students to the world around them.  GIS can be found in every facet of modern day life and provides students with a unique skill set to analyze their world and look for patterns.  Students are using real data to make connections and to reveal interesting findings.  At the same time, they learn about valid career pathways while being exposed to the enormous scope of how these technologies are being used at the local, national and global levels.  Getting the students out into the field has also increased engagement in addition to establishing human and physical connections to their local surroundings.  Those who have graduated to post-secondary institutions are reporting that the skills they gained are being used in a variety of programs and classes.  Not only does this include traditional geographic fields, but also other areas such as business, psychology, health care and police foundations." – Cory Munro, Teacher

Mr. Munro’s teachings with GIS were recently recognized nationally in an industry publication by a Canadian-owned company that provides enterprise GIS solutions to more than 10,000 customers.  He also coached two students to a provincial silver medal win for their work in the GIS competition at the Skills Ontario challenge in Waterloo.  

Image of students learning how to identify tree types at Bruce Peninsula National ParkImage of student checking data as part of a project to map a local farm
Group photo image of students at Toronto Island/Lake Ontario during Toronto field study
Image of Fire Hydrant Distribution Analysis map of Chesley
Image of 'Schools and Public Water Access in The Kibera Slum' document with map