Communicating GIS in Informal Settings

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06-06-2014 01:00 AM
JosephKerski
Esri Frequent Contributor
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Most everyone I know in the geospatial field feels passionate about their work, and many seek ways to spread awareness about GIS beyond the geospatial community.  So it was with enthusiasm that I agreed to participate recently with the organizers of the History Colorado museum's "COmingle" event.  With the "CO" referring to Colorado, and the "mingle" referring to its after-hours "fun evening with friends or a date" focus, COmingle is an "offbeat mix of games, trivia, demonstrations, exhibit adventures, performances, and hands-on activities", with food and "a whole lot of Colorado spirit." The activity I decided to host there was "Geography Quiz Night", because I had the perfect venue on which to do it--a giant basketball court-sized terrazzo map of the state of Colorado.  I dubbed it "G Harmony," or "Geography harmony." I wanted the quiz to be active, so for each of the 10 questions in each quiz, I asked the participants to stand on the location of the state to indicate what they thought was the correct answer.  I handed out prizes to the individuals or teams with the most correct, least correct, or more creative answers so everyone could win a prize.  The prizes were a combination of books, gift cards, and posters from me (Esri) and the History Colorado museum.
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Joseph Kerski, center, walking "toward Colorado Springs", conducting Colorado quiz on map of the state.



I conducted two quizzes during the evening, and my questions included, "Which county has the largest agricultural output?", "Where is the lowest point in the state?", "Where was the coldest temperature ever recorded in the state?", "What tiny town saw its high school boys basketball team beat all odds to become state champions in 1929 and 1930?", "Where is the 3rd largest city in Colorado?, and "Where is State Highway 1?" As I was giving the questions, I talked about mapping and GIS.  Challenge yourself with the complete list of my questions here. I had announced this event to the Colorado GIS community and education community, and so it proved to be a nice relaxed setting to meet new colleagues, in addition to others from outside geography and GIS, including innovative programmers from Oh Heck Yeah! who created a kinesthetic computer game people played there. What might you do to reach out and bring your community together to spread geography and GIS in innovative and fun ways?
About the Author
I believe that spatial thinking can transform education and society through the application of Geographic Information Systems for instruction, research, administration, and policy. I hold 3 degrees in Geography, have served at NOAA, the US Census Bureau, and USGS as a cartographer and geographer, and teach a variety of F2F (Face to Face) (including T3G) and online courses. I have authored a variety of books and textbooks about the environment, STEM, GIS, and education. These include "Interpreting Our World", "Essentials of the Environment", "Tribal GIS", "The GIS Guide to Public Domain Data", "International Perspectives on Teaching and Learning with GIS In Secondary Education", "Spatial Mathematics" and others. I write for 2 blogs, 2 monthly podcasts, and a variety of journals, and have created over 5,000 videos on the Our Earth YouTube channel. Yet, as time passes, the more I realize my own limitations and that this is a lifelong learning endeavor and thus I actively seek mentors and collaborators.