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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

The GRACE Project Offers Up the Keweenaw Time Traveler with GIS

September 13th, 2016 by Susan Smith

The GRACE Project for the Upper Peninsula (GRACE for UP) of Keweenaw County, Michigan is an amazing project-model for GIS-based education, with high school students using Esri GIS on two related real-world community projects in celebration of the  100th Anniversary of the National Parks Celebration.

Not only is it a fertile ground for students firsthand, it provides professional development training for teachers so they can integrate GIS/T into STEM and social studies curriculums, thereby exposing 5,000 student explorers, and creating 2,500 student investigators and producing 300-500 qualified GIST interns.

Kaisa Nagel & Tyler Kipina: Marine Mapping and Navigation on board the RV

Kaisa Nagel & Tyler Kipina: Marine Mapping and Navigation on board the RV

Randall Raymond, GIS specialist, NSF-ITEST GRACE Project, Advisor/Consultant and Dr. Don Lafreniere, director of Historical Environments, Spatial Analytics Labs, director Geospatial Research Core Facility, Great Lakes Research Center, Assistant Professor of Geography and GIS, Department of Social Services, spearheaded this project with the State of Michigan Teacher Development Association and were able to connect them with the National Historic Parks and the Michigan Tech Time Traveler project. The goal of the partnership was to bring GIS education and paid summer internships to Copper Country high school students.

Garrick Ensminger & Ilhan Onder:  Walkability in Laurium and Calumet: A Student's Perspective

Jacinda Wheelock: Missing in the Copper Country- Calumet

The upshot was a summer program of internships with students creating storymaps and using GIS tools, working with GIS on a daily basis on two community projects.

Eleven students from two different high schools participated. The students needed to complete Esri Virtual Campus courses and receive their certificates to qualify to be placed in the internship program. “What we’ve discovered is they really rise to the occasion,” said Raymond, “and we’re very excited to have this demonstration of the work the kids have completed.”

Jason Ackerman & Tim Stone: Keweenaw Time Traveler

Jason Ackerman & Tim Stone: Keweenaw Time Traveler

The students become well-versed in ArcGIS and ArcGIS Online, and have an ArcGIS organization account. They work with maps, geodatabases and accumulate 41 hours of training. Raymond and Lafreniere coordinated with the technology coordinator at the high schools who identified students who had taken advanced computing courses that included primer GIS, or other qualified students who would be good candidates for the program.

The students put their skills to work immediately when they are assigned to a community project. In order to develop the Citizen Historian Portal Design for the GRACE project, for example, organizers held a charrette with students to come up with a design that would be useful for the community in the making of Citizen Historian kiosks.

Dr. LaFreniere’s project was the Keweenaw Time Traveler project, which is an online digital atlas for exploring, researching and sharing the social, environmental and economic histories and heritage of the Copper Country over time. Data from citizen historians will be incorporated into existing data, and this atlas should be completed by summer, 2017.

“The students became so enthusiastic that now their friends want to participate next time,” said LaFreniere.

The program involved the following:

  • 6 week paid Internships June 5th-August 11th
  • 1 week of ESRI GIS Virtual Campus Courses
  • 5 weeks of on-the-job GIS training
  • 8 students worked in the Historical Environments Spatial Analytics Lab at MTU
  • 3 students worked at Keweenaw National Historical Park

The schedule was as follows:

  • Monday – Wednesday: Applied GIS Education
  • Thursday: Field Activities using GIS and mobile mapping tools
  • Transforming park interpretative material into digital Story Maps
  • Archeological Material Culture Analysis with Dr. Carl Blair (Thursday Field Activities) Marine Mapping and Navigation, Historical GIS walking tour of Torch Lake, Complete Streets- Youth Activity Transportation Planning, assessing sidewalks for walkability, a look at how CLK schools have changed over time (looking at maps).

Those involved in the GRACE for UP project include:

GRACE Colleagues: Randall Raymond, Yichun Xie, David Anderson

GRACE Student Supervisor: Geoff Muir

Keweenaw NHP Staff: Kathleen Harter, Jo Holt, Lynette Webber

Keweenaw Time Traveler Project Co-Director: Sarah Scarlett

HESAL Lab Research Associates: Dan Trepal, Gary Spikberg, Thomas Henderson,

Luke Weidner, Savannah de Luca

MTU Colleagues: Carol MacLennan, Carl Blair, Lloyd Westcoat , Captain Stephen Roblee









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Categories: ArcGIS, ArcGIS Online, Big Data, citizen science, Esri, geospatial, GIS, iPhone, mapping

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