Does GIS Make Kids Gullible?

I just read a weird article about “Some Ways to Make Children Think Santa Exists” that includes children follow Santa’s journey on Norad all the way up to a voice transmorgified phone call from Santa. Like “How to Lie With Maps“, it unitentionally raises some questions about how kids are influenced by technology. I would consider kids today to be more savvy than 1897 “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” or the kids (and adults) who believed in the Cottingly Fairies that were created using the new “photograph” technology. I think that GIS can enhance holiday experienes by tracking Santa, making family trees, showing hometowns, and generally intergrating it into everyday life. I am not so sure about voice changers.

British Geological Survey Maps

The British Geological Survey, the world’s oldest national geological survey, is offering GEOSCIENCE, a free service for sharing geospatial information including maps, 3D maps, and photographs. The GEOSCENIC is really cool because it is geological photos from their archives that can be used free of charge for non-commercial purposes. They have a make-a-map function for students and teachers. I think that overall this site would make a great addition to history, geography, geology, or science lesson plans. I’m making a bunch of really awesome screen savers.

The Geospatial Semester – a great program for high school students in Virginia through JMU

James Madison University has a great new partnership with high school in Virginia for a program called The Geospatial Semester . From the Geospatial Semester webpage:

“The Geospatial Semester is a unique partnership between high schools in Virginia and the Integrated Science and Technology department at James Madison University (JMU). High school seniors participating in the Geospatial Semester take classes on geospatial technology in their home school and can earn credit from JMU. A key aspect of the program is a focus on local projects connecting students, technology, and their community.”

I think this is great idea to give more opportunities for kids in high school to get experience with GIS and geospatial technologies and concepts, and give them a leg up when they get to college. If you know of similar programs in other states, let us know, because I’m always excited to see great outreach projects in the educational community.

New GIScience track at the 2010 ESRI User Conference

The Call for Papers has gone out for the new GIScience Research track at the 2010 ESRI International User Conference. “Papers in this special track must focus on cutting-edge research in GIScience. Full papers will be included in a special issue of Transactions in GIS to be distributed at the 2010 Conference. Abstracts (500 words) must be submitted to Dr. John Wilson, University of Southern California, by 15th December, 2009.”

Once the abstracts are in, 9 papers will be selected, and the authors will be notified by December 22nd. If your abstract is selected, a full paper (upt to 6000 words) will be due in February 2010. There’s a lot of good research in GIScience out there, and this would be a good opportunity for getting an academic publication out of the work you’re presenting at the UC.

First ever USA Science and Engineering Festival – Fall 2010!

This is so cool – Next fall, from October 10-24th, the Inaugural USA Science & Engineering Festival, the US’s first national science festival, will be held in the Washington, DC area. The culmination of the Festival will be a 2-day (October 23rd and 24th) Expo on the National Mall. From the Festival website – “The Festival promises to be the ultimate multi-cultural, multi-generational and multi-disciplinary celebration of science in the United States. The culmination of the Festival will be a two-day Expo in the nation’s capital that will give over 500 science & engineering organizations from all over the United States the opportunity to present themselves with a hands-on, fun science activity to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.”

Already, over 200 organizations have signed up to participate, by hosting an exhibit, becoming a Festival partner, organizing a Satellite event in their own community, making donations, and other sponsoring activities. People can also volunteer to help out with the Festival, and there’s a signup form available here. I know we’re going to try to make it to the Festival, and if you’re here in the US and can get to DC, you should mark your calendars too!

Jesse comments on “Aspiring Academics” – Part 2

In Part 1 of my comments on Aspiring Academics: A Resource Book for Graduate Students and Early Career Faculty from the AAG I focused on online resources to build on the concepts offered in the text. With Part 2, which covers chapters 6-10 on developing and enhancing teaching and advising skills I will just be offering up my personal comments. To go beyond what this section of the book has to offer you have to get into the education literature yourself.

Chapter 6 – Designing Significant Learning Experiences
-If you haven’t figured it out already, this is the key question for me and hopefully anyone teaching whether at a community college, teaching university or Research I institution. There is a simple suggestion that I can make to go along with this chapter…take teaching/education classes. Much as we have theory and methodologies to support our research in our domain area, educators have an existing literature on the ways in which to convey ideas, reinforce critical thinking, and even how to get students in the classroom on sunny days in Spring. I have taken three courses on using technology in the classroom and plan to continue to take classes now that my dissertation is coming to an end, not because it is required, but because there is so much more to know about being an effective instructor.
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USGIF Scholarships – deadline May 29

We recently had the chance to talk to Keith Masback, President of the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation, back on Episode 189 of the podcast. Part of the conversation was on the thousands of dollars that give away each year to students who are interested in pursuing a degree that leads to a geospatial intelligence career. These are open to graduate and undergraduate students as well as graduating high school seniors. The deadline for this year’s scholarship competition is quickly approaching (May 29, 2009) so get cracking. Full details and downloadable application materials are available on the USGIF website.

Sleep on it…well, yeah

Another random aside from Jesse…I have noticed a few different sources talking about the fact that information is best distributed in manageable amounts with sleep or significant rest time between portions (of knowledge). The fact that so many people are talking about this surprises me, not because it isn’t true, but because of the amount of time this has been discussed. This has been discussed in cognitive literature for a while, but seems to be getting more attention now in the education literature. It isn’t a matter of these folks didn’t read the correct literature in their field, it is the lack of interdisciplinarity in much of this education and cognitive research. It is also an issue that there are SO MANY sources out there that it is impossible to research them all and still do research of your own.
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Jesse comments on “Aspiring Academics” – Part 1


The recent AAG text Aspiring Academics: A Resource Book for Graduate Students and Early Career Faculty edited by Solem, Foote and Monk (2009) offers a great deal of information in just a few pages (212 pages). Clearly as a book aimed at academics it references other academic materials on the various topics. As I read through the text on the flight back from Las Vegas I thought of several online and ‘real world’ examples and resources that might be useful to readers. This post covers section 1 of the book, chapters 1-5.

Chapter 1 Time Management
-GTD is the acronym for the philosophy that spread through tech and business sectors. David Allen’s ‘getting things done’ is an effective way to plan your activities and projects. No one does GTD more amusingly than merlin Mann of 43 folders.

Chapter 2 Career Planning
-This is a significant area of importance and due to the restrictions of the text’s topic looks at only the academic issues. But with the market as it is and the reality of changing interests through the grad school we have to look at jobs in government and the private sector as well. There several jobs that ate outside of academia that allow for research, teaching and service just like that plumb tenure track job that you could have gone after.
Continue reading “Jesse comments on “Aspiring Academics” – Part 1″