A few hundred teenagers in
The community-mapping project asks the students to think like scientists. Whether this leads some of them to science careers or to advocate for climate-change measures, the experience will give them problem-solving skills and a new perspective.
The curriculum Tomaszewski an Vodacek developed will train 225 high school students in the Huye and Gisagara districts in southwestern
The students will learn to use the geographic information system technology embedded within the electronic devices to collect and synthesize data from their surroundings. The assignments will teach them the spatial-thinking skills needed to navigate and make their own maps.
Spatial thinking uses the properties of space, such as scale, distance and direction, to structure and solve problems ranging from simple navigation with a map to complex scientific inquiry, Tomaszewski says. It drives his research about the science behind geographic information systems--information tools and interactive maps--and Vodacek's use of remotely gathered imagery to study land cover change, monitor wildfires and assess water quality.
"My interest in mapping technology coupled with Tony's interest in environmental science gives our collaboration a really great synergy," says Tomaszewski, assistant professor of information sciences and technology at RIT.
Their project focuses on three high schools in
The students will use computers equipped with the Android operating system to run open-source mapping technology. The availability of free software makes the community-mapping program feasible as a pilot project and, possibly, implemented on a national scale.
Customized mapping software was developed at RIT during the summer by
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