Developing Ecoliteracy in Primary School with GIS and Other Tools

2318
0
09-24-2019 06:21 AM
Esri Frequent Contributor
5 0 2,318

One of the educators I have been working with over the years, Mark Bushman, at Denver Public Schools, works tirelessly to develop ecoliteracy in young students with the use of GIS technology.  An example of their work can be seen in the following richly detailed story map, one of the most powerful stories I have ever seen highlighting the work of young students:

https://www.arcgis.com/apps/Cascade/index.html?appid=c314079720964f2c8685e97c81531016

The projects -- most from Grade 2 (8 year-old) students, are fascinating on many levels – (1) They incorporate fieldwork and map trees, birds, and much more; (2) They wonderfully combine art, science, geography, and other subjects.  (3) Rather than having to be "busy" the entire duration of the project, they spend time thinking and reflecting. (4) They engage young students in conducting research.  (5)  They embrace intercultural teaching.  (6)  They use a combination of tools and develop a variety of skills--GIS, writing, sketching, observing, and much more.  (7)  The project includes a citizen science component (eBird) and a community service component (building and deploying bird houses).  (8)  The teacher incorporates the work into a research project with some fascinating findings about the effectiveness of this ecoliteracy project and the utility of using GIS within it. 

Upon Mark's invitation, I had the pleasure of visiting this school to teach a workshop on mapping technologies.  The students and their teachers whom I met were just as inspiring in person as their story map shows.  I salute them and encourage you to consider and incorporate some of what they have done, combining it with your own interests and setting to make these tools and methods work for you. 

Ecoliteracy project.

Ecoliteracy project.

Ecoliteracy project.

Ecoliteracy project.

Ecoliteracy project.

Ecoliteracy project.

Additional screen shots from the ecoliteracy story map.

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.