The Urban Atlanta Geospatial STEM Academy: Preparing High School Students for Geospatial Technology Careers at Georgia State University (GSU) is a summer STEM education training program that engages one hundred 9th through 12th grade students from the Atlanta region in community-based geospatial technology educational experiences.
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Academy Mission: The mission of the Academy is to introduce students to applicable and transferrable geospatial technology skillsets for the in-demand, high growth industry of geospatial technologies. The Academy’s mission offers high return on investment as it aligns with a growing nationwide STEM career direction. Geospatial technologies have recently been identified as a high-growth industry by the U.S. Department of Labor. Within geospatial technology fields, the projected employment growth from 2010 to 2020 of geoscientists is 21 percent, environmental engineers is 22 percent, and computer systems analysts is 22 percent (U.S. Department of Labor, 2012). Although these career opportunities are growing at a dramatic rate, U.S. high school students are often unaware of these opportunities until later in their college careers as most U.S. high schools are not adequately preparing students for these careers given that geography, geospatial technology, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) courses are not prominently offered in most of the nation’s high schools.
Focus on Learning and Applying New STEM skills: Our Academy seeks to cultivate youth excitement and develop a growing interest in geospatial technologies for 100 Atlanta area high school students that can prepare them for geospatial technology majors and minors in college and multiple career fields within government/military, environmental research, urban planning, and the non-profit sector. Core geospatial concepts will include: cartography and map design, data management, and spatial analysis.
Academy Connections to Georgia State University: The Academy is a natural extension of existing work in community geography, GIS, and related geospatial technologies at GSU led by Dr. Timothy Hawthorne, the Academy’s Founding Director and Principal Investigator. Dr. Hawthorne’s community geography and GIS work with youth and teachers is currently funded by the National Geographic Education Foundation through a grant to The Georgia Geographic Alliance (GGA). Hawthorne is the GGA’s State Coordinator and Director of Research. The GGA is one of only 54 Alliances across the country funded by National Geographic. Hawthorne is also the Principal Investigator of a National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates Site grant that provides underrepresented populations from around the country an opportunity to study community geography and GIS while completing collaborative research with community organizations in Atlanta for 7 weeks (Summers 2012-2014).
What does the Academy do? The Academy offers four separate weeklong summer workshops (25 students per session) where students will apply geospatial technologies to examinations of prominent urban issues, including mapping urban food accessibility; urban green space restoration and non-native invasive species; neighborhood crime statistics and demographics; and multimodal transportation safety analysis. Academy students will engage in active learning connecting interactive lecture discussions, hands-on geospatial technology labs, collaborative research planning discussions, personal and direct mentoring with a diverse group of Georgia State University undergraduate and graduate students, and community-based fieldwork in Atlanta neighborhoods.
How is the Academy funded? We are funded with a $75,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation.