Hipster 'chill village' wins schools' geography competition

Nov 18, 2015 -- A student’s vision to transform unused land into a hipster ‘chill village’ complete with colourful street art, al fresco dining and a skate ramp has taken top prize in a Victorian schools’ geography challenge.

Heritage College secondary student Kaeyah Mousaco won the inaugural MapIT! Challenge, a pilot competition run in conjunction by the Cardinia Shire Council, the Geography Teachers Association of Victoria (GTAV) and Victoria Walks and sponsored by smart mapping specialists Esri Australia.

The first-of-its-kind contest encouraged local primary and secondary students to use the power of geography and maps to either redesign a recreational space, upgrade their school playground or plot an exciting walking trail in their local area.

Cardinia Shire Council Mayor Jodie Owen said it was fantastic to see schools and students embracing geography to help them look at where they live differently.

"Council is pleased to be able to encourage students to think spatially about where they live,” Mayor Owen said.

“We hope this competition is the start of something great and many of our local students are inspired by the idea of geographical mapping.”

The MapIT! Challenge received 81 entries from more than 200 students, an outstanding response considering this year’s pilot was limited to just six schools.

The announcement of the winners coincided with international GIS Day, an event dedicated to celebrating the difference smart mapping technology – commonly known as Geographic Information System (GIS) technology – makes within society.

Esri Australia Managing Director Brett Bundock said empowering students to view the Cardinia Shire through a geographic lens will cultivate greater spatial awareness.

“Geography extends beyond state or country borders, with its principles underpinning decision-making in many areas of the community, including public safety, transport and healthcare,” Mr Bundock said.

“Inspiring Australia’s next generation of cartographers and geospatial professionals to utilise GIS technologies, while thinking conceptually about their environment, will foster sustainable, connected and adaptable communities across the country.”    

GTAV Executive Officer Libby Hillman said the competition provided a unique opportunity for students to apply geography skills and knowledge learnt in the classroom in a practical, real-world context.

“It’s clear from the clever and imaginative competition entries, Cardinia Shire students are eagerly embracing geography as a valuable and important subject in school,” Ms Hillman said.

“The collaborative efforts from teachers and students has been exceptional and following the success from this year’s competition, we hope to expand the challenge next year.”

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