The GIS2GPS Team
The GIS2GPS Team, a group of educators, has been involved in Geographic Information System (GIS) and Global Positioning System (GPS) training across the Midwest for the past seven years. The team developed the first ESRI Authorized K-12 Training Program in Illinois. Over the past several years, the team has been involved in designing, training and technical support for schools across the State of Illinois. This project was part of Technology Literacy Challenge Grant, which was designed to stimulate the use of GIS and GPS technologies with Illinois K-12 students.
The team also conducted introductory workshops on GIS and GPS to educators to develop a working knowledge of GIS and GPS, experience Internet interactive GIS applications as well as an introduction to ESRI GIS software. Teachers, working in the field, saw how various resource agencies and industries use GIS and GPS in their daily work.
The team has worked with the Illinois Rivers Project at Edwardsville, Illinois and the TOPS Institute of Southern Illinois University. The TOPS Institutes was specially funded to provide technological applications for environmental monitoring. These special grants provide technology training for Illinois teachers and funded under a grant by the ISBE.
Over the past summers, the team has been involved with the Area III Learning Technology Center of Illinois which extends over fourteen counties. The team has taught four-day courses for grades 5-12 math and science teachers in GIS and GPS technologies and their applications in the classroom. The courses provided teachers with information about GIS and GPS, why it is important in education, and ways of implementing this technology into the school curriculum.
The GIS2GPS Team has spearheaded GIS and GPS technologies in Illinois schools, which allows students to explore the possibilities of the technology available that can be incorporated into community planning, workforce development, demographic analysis, marketing, and many other career fields. The GIS2GPS Team has been conducting workshops and running various activities engaging teachers in geospatial technologies for several years. They have been instrumental in getting a number of schools up and running with GIS and GPS. Many participants having entered these learning opportunities with only hearing the acronyms GIS and GPS, and have left with a plethora of meaningful ways to begin to implement and integrate these tools within their curriculum. The team has been instrumental in bringing GIS and GPS to schools in rural and urban communities. In addition, the team has developed an Internet Web site, www.gis2gps.com, which provides meaningful resources, including lessons, connections to K-12 Illinois Learning Standards, and supporting information that is needed to support the growth of these important technological advances for students and educators.
The Illinois GIS Professional Association of Illinois (ILGISA) which is made up of GIS professionals from across the state honored the team with their Service Award for their efforts in bringing GIS to the K-12 schools in Illinois. The award was presented at the Fall Conference in 2002.
The Service Award is presented to an individual or organization, which has provided exemplary professional service or support to the GIS community. In this case it the GIS2GPS TEAM that received the award for its ongoing effort in bringing this needed technology to the K-12 environment. GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and GPS (Global Positioning Systems) are new and essential tools for students in the 21st century.
Through their effort, students across Illinois are being exposed to these tools that they eventually will be using in the future. As professionals we are excited to see this being successfully introduced to the students and teachers in our communities. As professionals we see this as an excellent opportunity for schools and communities to collaborate on real time projects.
The latest GPS endeavor in technology is taking one of the fastest growing outside activities, Geocaching (is an outdoor treasure-hunting activity in which the participants use a GPS receiver to hide and seek containers called caches anywhere in the world) and turning it into EcoCaching, an educational twist to geocaching. The term was coined in partnership with Dr. Michael Wiant, Director of the Dickson Mounds Museum and is derived from ecology, more specifically human ecology, and it refers to any place where a natural or cultural feature may be found on the landscape. An EcoCache is an educational virtual geocache that people can visit to view a unique feature. EcoCaching is the concept of treasure hunting for caches that the Earth has stored. There is no hidden container to find, the treasure is the lessons learned about our planet when visiting each site, and through the accompanying interpretive materials
As educators we ask, “What can our students learn from geocaching?” Well the learning possibilities are endless. Students employ the understanding of latitude, longitude, and other basic geographic tools. They will learn more about the area in which live, including places they haven’t been before, local history, and more. They will also learn to use a technology that is fun and useful. It is also a very good way to exercise their mind and body. The best outcome is they will learn to become lifelong learners and explorers of the world around them
The GIS2GPS Team also developed the first "Educational Geocaching Association" (ILEGA) in the USA. ILEGA (www.ilega.org) will exist to enhance the GPS experiences and Geocaching experiences in the educational communities across the State of Illinois by sharing ideas, projects and information. The web site will reflect the activities and goals of the organization.
The GIS2GPS Team consists of Edward Gorny and Nancy Gorny, cofounders of the GIS2GPS Team. Edward Gorny is a junior high technology teacher at Jefferson Junior High in Woodridge and past math department chair. Nancy Gorny retired from the world of education as a high school media center director and has additional background in geography. Denis Kazelas is a high school chemistry teacher at Marist High School in Chicago. Carol Przyzycki retired from the Department of Education at Argonne National Labs in ILL. She works closely with staff development and Women in the Sciences program. Patty Zriny is presently working in the Department of Education at Argonne National Labs; she also works with developing hands-on science activities for educators to use in the classroom.
The team started working together in 1994 bringing something called the Internet to schools in the six-county area of Chicago. Since then they have been involved in all areas of technology and staff development. Presently they feel that geography and geotechnologies will provide the lens and the tools with which students can grapple with their local, regional, and global issues that surround them to build a sustainable future.
A Final thought on GIS & GPS. GPS and GIS are the next
great leap in technology for education. Staying on the cutting edge
students to bigger achievements in the 21st century. When students
enter college / higher education, they should be asking where the GIS
lab an not what is GIS.
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