KidsGIS is a cool project from a group of professionals and educators out in Oregon, who have been using MapGuide Open Source tools to create an open source geospatial portal as a tool for educating kids about environmental issues and about using open source software and open data standards. The project has an impressive group of sponsors, including the Open Source Geospatial Foundation, Autodesk, the San Diego Visualization and Supercomputer Centers, URISA, local governments and schools, and private companies such as Spatial Integrators and SPATIALinfo. They’ve been working on the project since 2005, I believe, and now have a protoype up and running, using data from a project where students collected their own data from a study area along the Willamette River and its tributaries. The plans are to improve and expand the functionality of the prototype GIS applications as they move into the next phases of the project.
I really like seeing project like this that really bring together a lot of partners in education, government and industry, and promote important initiatives, like better understanding of the environment. Plus, exposing kids to open source software and letting them participate in building the tools they are using is a great educational tool in itself. So, when you get a chance, check out the KidsGIS project and see what they’re up to, or even think about how you might be able to start a project like that in your own area!