Student Testimonial of GIS in K-12 Education: Meet Catherine!

Blog Post created by cluebbering on Jun 17, 2015

To learn more about how students are using GIS and geography applications in their classroom, we'll feature testimonials from students themselves telling us about their classroom and project experiences.  If you would like to share your K-12 education experience or can recommend someone else who may want to, please contact us at

Catherine Dempsey

School Name: Washington-Lee High School

School Location: Arlington, Virginia

Class: James Madison University’s dual enrollment Geospatial Tools and Techniques Class


Before this GIS experience, had you encountered and/or used GIS before?  What did you already know, if anything, about the technology?
Before taking this class I had honestly never heard of GIS. Now, after having such a positive and fun experience with it, I plan to major in GIS and hopefully be able to use it to open doors for a diverse set of career opportunities. I know that many of my classmates had a similar experience as well.

What mapping or analysis techniques did you learn through this experience? During this experience I learned how to use ArcGIS for Desktop and ArcGIS Online to analyze a variety of situations ranging from finding the best area for a ski resort based off of temperature, sun exposure, and the slope of a mountain, to tracking an urban coyote.

What was the most interesting thing you learned about GIS or how to do with GIS? During the Year I created an online interactive map of South America that compared a country’s HIV rate with its GDP per capita. It was really interesting to create, and showed how online maps can be a great way to effectively display and distribute information visually.

Has this experience affected your academic or career interests?  If so, how? My experience using GIS in a high school classroom has greatly affected both my academic and career interests. I now want to major in GIS, and I can apply my GIS knowledge to almost any field that I become interested in which is exciting.

If another student asked you why they should learn about GIS, what would you tell them? GIS is a unique way to analyze and display data visually, and is applicable to almost anything which makes the field very diverse and interesting. GIS is also in-demand in the workforce so it’s an awesome thing to know how to do and be able to put on your resume.