The plan is to set up GIS clubs in the schools so students can learn how GIS can help in environmental conservation, cultural heritage preservation, and the sustainable development of their region. The students will be involved in building an integrated GIS database, which will include the cultural and natural resource information of Podlasie.
The concept of GIS clubs at secondary schools in Podlasie was conceived approximately two years ago. At that time, PHA, a user of ESRI’s GIS software, had begun a project to collect information about historic buildings and place-names throughout the Podlasie region. The PHA members invited teachers and their students to join in the project. The students and teachers agreed that the study stimulated their interest in research and made other academic subjects more engaging.
The GIS club educational initiative will soon begin a pilot study project involving 13 schools in the Polish section of the Puszcza Białowieska Euroregion. This region lies between the Republics of Poland and Belarus and, according to the World Wildlife Fund, contains the only remaining primeval forest in Europe.
Students will use ESRI's ArcView 9.1 software to evaluate and record the traditional geographic names of the region. Their methodology will include the examination of existing maps and land register records, interviews with elderly residents to record the origins of local geographic place-names, and the recording of the results of their research on regional maps that they will develop.
“The most important aspect of this initiative is the interdisciplinary approach in using GIS for research. Among the participants, we can find students and teachers of such diverse subjects as geography, biology, history, linguistics, and IT technology,” said Miroslaw Stepaniuk, PHA chairman and project coordinator.
ESRI Polska is a supporting partner with PHA on the project. Comments Lech Nowogrodzki, president of ESRI Polska, “We are very glad to have the opportunity to promote the use of GIS technology among secondary school students and their teachers. This educational initiative is critically important because it engages young people at an early age in the preservation of their environment and heritage.”
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About Podlasie Heritage Association
The Podlasie Heritage Association is a private organization that focuses on cultural and environmental conservation as well as the promotion of the Podlasie Province of Poland. PHA is involved in regional development and organizes successful programs specifically for villages and small towns. The members of PHA have been using GIS for many years to record natural and man-made features in Podlasie. Realizing the special role that young people will play in the future for sustainable development projects in their local communities, PHA endeavors to take an active role in public education in cooperation with local community and government authorities.
About ESRI Polska
ESRI Polska was established in 1995 and is the sole authorized representative of ESRI and ESRI products in Poland. The company provides support and technical services to ESRI software users. It offers a full range of professional services including needs assessment, consulting services, system design and engineering, application design and development, implementation, and user training. ESRI Polska collaborates with groups of experts on implementing GIS in various sectors of the economy, public administration, and science, providing flexibility and high-quality performance in the projects it develops.