NKAPC began introducing GIS technology into local classrooms in 2002 as part of GIS Day and National Geography Week. Staff initiated the effort in Kenton County by targeting all freshman social studies classes. This year the program expanded to include Campbell County Middle School where the target was eighth grade algebra students.
“The algebra class was tailored more to the math component of GIS,” said Kyle Snyder, Principal GIS Specialist. “Grids are one of the concepts that underpin GIS so there’s a lot of geometry involved.”
Snyder worked with the students to do exercises using local landmarks. Great American Ballpark and Northern Kentucky University were on the list.
“The students were able to use aerial photographs to find their way to the baseball diamond at Campbell County High School. Once they did, I had them find the X-Y coordinates of home plate and the pitching mound and use geometry to find the distance between the two.”
Snyder then used GIS technology and data to show students a different and quicker way of finding the same distance. The classes were all very receptive to the exercises and Snyder plans to continue visiting area schools in coming years.
“This is a community outreach exercise that’s quite a bit of fun for me. I think it’s important to start the students out early and give them a better understanding of their surroundings.”
The schools are grateful for the opportunity to expose their students to new career choices and different learning methods as well.
“The algebra teacher told me she is asked quite frequently, ‘When are we ever going to use this?’ and it’s great for us to be able to say, ‘This is when you’ll use it.’”
NKAPC staff intend to expand the program’s reach to other Campbell County schools next year.