Successful First Summer of the Urban Atlanta Geospatial STEM Academy!

Our first summer was MAPTASTIC!!! That’s the word we would use to describe the four weeks of this summer’s academy. Students from all over the ATL region participated in a variety of hands-on technology learning opportunities. Thanks to the youth scholars for their hard work and for the financial support from the Verizon Foundation.

From Zero to 150 MPH in One Week! ALL of our student scholars come into our program without any training in geospatial STEM technologies in their classroom and in five days they learn new online mapping tools, create a research project with real world impact with community organizations, develop an online mapping website, and present their work publicly! We are incredibly impressed with the intellect, effort, and creativity our student scholars demonstrated in each of the four weeks. They lived our motto: “have fun, learn, collaborate, and grow!”

How do we integrate technology into the Academy learning environment?

Our program is completely focused on geospatial technologies, including drones, the ArcGIS Online mapping platform, tablet technology for mobile mapping on the ArcGIS Collector app, and web development tools through ArcGIS Online to create an online mapping web application for the final projects. We begin with a series of ArcGIS Online challenge exercises for the first two days where students build their skillsets, then we discuss a research problem and methodology with them to solve a community issues. We then use the mobile mapping app on the tablets to collect data in the field to address the problem. We then analyze the data in ArcGIS Online, and present the work publicly. The focus is on active learning with collaborative team work where students have to apply their skills in the real world to see the impact of what they do.

What is the real-world community impact of our real-world community GIS projects?

  • Atlanta Community Food Bank—Scholars working with the ACFB use the ArcGIS Collector mobile mapping app to map social services and sidewalk quality to gain a better understanding of the services that lower-income community members can easily (or not so easily) access while walking on the sidewalks. The team uses two baby dolls and strollers, in conjunction with GoPro cameras, to document the quality of the sidewalks in the study area from the perspective of a parent accessing services in the area.
  • Atlanta Beltline and Trees Atlanta—Scholars working on this team work with The Beltline and Trees Atlanta and travel to the Beltline using ArcGIS Collector to collect data (including diameter at breast height, crown width, and species type) on individual trees lining the trail.  This project is the Beltline’s first citizen science trees database and students are urban tree pioneers.
  • Westside Atlanta Land Trust—Scholars working on this team work with WALT walking through areas of the Vine City and English Avenue neighborhoods, plotting their emotions at specific locations, including Alonzo Herndon’s home, the WALT community garden on Elm Street, and various greenspaces.  The project allows the community to better understand how youth experience the built environment and better plan for future development in the neighborhoods of interest.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *