The Geospatial STEM Academy: We ARE A Free STEM Summer Program for High School Students!

Primary Contact: 

Dr. Timothy L. Hawthorne, University of Central Florida

Academy Founding Director and Principal Investigator

Email: timothy.hawthorne@ucf.edu


The Geospatial STEM Academy is a summer STEM education training program that engages one hundred 9th through 12th grade students in community-based geospatial technology educational experiences.

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.


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.

We were funded with a $75,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation for Summer 2015.  We are seeking new funding for additional summer experiences.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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