Zombies and Geospatial Analysis

If you have met me, you know that I would love to teach a geography class using  the book  World War Z by Max Brooks, a journalist who uses a zombie apocalypse to discuss current events and world geography. David Hunter, a middle school teacher in Seattle, Washington beat me to the punch. He is asking for help on Kickstarter to create a  Grade 5-8 Standards Based curriculum “Learning Geography skills through a Zombie Apocalypse Narrative”.  His concept is not as far fetched as it seems. At the WV Association for Geospatial Professionals conference this week Sheila Wilson, Executive Director of the GIS Certificate Institute (GISP) started off her talk with the CDC  Zombie Preparedness Guide. She talked about how in the guide a GIS team who were prepared to spatially analyze zombie hot spots, were prepared for anything.  According to Cartographia, Austin TX has been prepared for a zombie outbreak since 2007.

Joking aside, I think that the zombie apocalypse creates a “sandbox” for researchers, educators, and society to analyze and understand complex, interconnected geospatial issues in a non-threatening way.  I’m not the only one who feels this way. Edward Gonzalez-Tennant a geography professor at Monmouth University is hopefully going to be presenting a paper on “Popular Culture and GIS: Using Geospatial Technologies to Model and Prepare for the Zombie Apocalyze.” at the 2012 ESRI Education User’s Conference (EDUC). There is also a 2012 ESRI International User’s session dedicated to Health, Behavior, and Zombies.  Preparing for zombie outbreaks on Earth is inspiring geospatial professionals to innovate and think big much like Star Trek has inspired decades of engineers.

If you want to experience your own zombie attack, Class 3 Outbreak is a zombie outbreak simulator played via Google maps at hundreds of locations world wide.

GIS Summer Camps for Students

Summer time is a great time for students of all ages to learn about GIS and geospatial technologies because it is a very hands-on technology. There are often GIS summer camps being offered at local colleges or incorporated into the general activities of 4-H and other camps. Some examples of upcoming summer camps by age group include:

High School

The GeoX: Geosciences Exploration Summer Program  is a FREE one-week program for high-achieving high  school juniors and seniors by being offered by Texas A & M (June 1-8, 2012).  It combines a mixture of classroom, campus, and field trips, along with technical and career skills.  The geosciences, especially geography, is a field that takes more recruitment at the high school level because of the misconception that geography is only being able to name all the countries in the world. This is changing as more high school outreach programs like this one introduce students to real life applications of geospatial skills and awareness. Application deadline is: April 9

Junior High

The TwiST GIS Summer Camp is offered by the Institute for the Application of Geospatial Technologies (IAGT), Cayuga Community College, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, the National Geospatial Technology Center, CIESIN and the New York State GIS Association to coincide with the Teaching with Spatial Technology (TwiST) Workshop for educators (June 28 – July 1).  Students learn geospatial technologies such as GIS, GPS, and remote sensing by working on a real world project.  Many STEM educators believe that junior high is one of the best times to get students interested in science, technology, and math related careers. Scholarships are available.

Grade School

The Harbor Discoveries Camp is offered by the New England Aquarium (July 9 – 24, 2012).  It is an interactive marine and environmental science program that uses geospatial technologies. Some of the activities include behind–the-scenes activities at Aquarium galleries, “excursions to Boston Harbor Islands, daily field trips to North and South Shore habitats, and an overnight experience.” Older students who have attended the camp are eligible to apply to be teachers and camp counselors. Many aquariums, museums, and nature preserves offer similar programs for students who don’t want to attend away camps.

Educators

The Teaching with Spatial Technology (TwiST) Workshop offered by the IAGT and Cayuga Community College (June 25-28, 2012) is designed to teach K-12 teachers and college faculty members in the United States how to teach and empower through geospatial technologies in the classroom. In 2011, the TwiST workshop was recognized in an Esri Special Achievements in GIS Award for  11 years of geospatial education. Scholarships are available.  Application deadline is: April 15

The “SATELLITES” (Students And Teachers Exploring Local Landscapes to Interpret The Earth from Space) K12 Summer Teacher Institute at the University of Toledo (July 9-13, 2012) is an award winning teacher education program focusing on geospatial technology and climate change and student research projects. The SATTELITES teachers have gone to the have gone to the White House Science Fair for the past two years.

Application Deadline: April 17, 2012

 

ESRI Kid’s Camp

Don’t forget that if you are attending the 2012 ESRI User’s Conference this year, they offer a GIS Kids Camp (July 24-26, 2012) Many summer conferences offer geospatial education programs for kids attending the conference with their parents.

If you know of any upcoming summer camps, post them in the comments section.

 

Looking for a few good interviews at the AAG in NY

The VerySpatial crew will be at the AAG in New York from Friday, 24 February to Tuesday, 28 February. We have a handful of conversations lined up, but if you would like to sit down with us at the conference to talk about your project, class, product, etc. contact us via email (or twitter or facebook or google+) to arrange a time to sit down and talk. If you aren’t going to be at the AAG (for instance if you are hitting the Esri FedUC earlier that week instead) but would like to talk, we can always set up a phone/skype interview in March.

See you in New York!

Geography Education Specialty Group of the AAG

As some of you may know, I took up the mantle of Treasurer of the GESG this year. Since I have an audience to reach out to through the blog, I thought I would take some time to evangelize the GESG and encourage folks to keep it in mind as they renew their AAG membership to register for the annual conference (mere weeks to go to submit abstracts).

The mission of the Geography Education Specialty Group is:

To promote research, development, and practice in the learning and teaching of geography and to examine and strengthen the role of geography in education by focusing on the development of learners, teachers, curricula, and programs.

This clearly touches on anyone that is in the classroom, working in outreach, or really interested in how people conceive of Geography. There is obviously significant overlap with in membership with NCGE, but working as part of the AAG allows the GESG to build on the presentations and discussions of the larger group of educators and geographers in attendance at the AAG annual meeting. In other words…join both!

If you are a student studying Geography Education, be sure to check out the GESG’s Gail Hobbs Student Paper Competition. It is a great way to share your work and meet Geographers with a similar focus during the sessions (you know, there really are people outside your department). Plus, talk about icing on the cake, there are cash prizes for the competition! Student membership is cheap at $1.

For the non-students, whether you are an AAG member or will be applying in the future and are interested in Geography Education, be sure to add us to your list of Specialty Groups. It is a great way to keep up-to-date with Geography educators in the AAG, and the related activities going on at the annual meeting. Regular membership is a very reasonable $5.

Conference recovery

Completely off topic filler to follow:

One of the great things about the Esri UC is that it ends on Friday giving you a weekend to recover. I know this is fairly common for conferences that cater to companies or government agencies, but my many years of conference attendance have been heavily academic oriented leaning toward Geography and archaeology conferences. Academic conferences ‘take advantage’ of the weekends so that you don’t miss as many days of class, can escape from work, etc to help you attend. Getting home Sunday afternoon or, better yet, late Sunday after a cross country flight (e.g. AAG in Seattle this April) means that you connect two weeks with a very tiring long weekend (and not in the good way). It rarely leaves you with any kind of post conference euphoria.

Any way, I wish everyone we interviewed, chatted with, presented to, saw in the hall ways…a great recovery weekend. However, if you stuck around in SD to attend Comic-con, I resend the good wishes and wish you little-toe cramp (the appendage not the severity) during your time at the SDCC next weekend…just kidding…or am I…just kidding!

Live Show today

If you are at the Esri UC in San Diego, swing by Room 30E of the SDCC at 5:30PDT for our 6th anniversary celebration. Elvin Slavik of the ArcPad Team will once again join us at the mics to share wisdom on geospatial in general.

I forgot the webcam, so we probably won’t be able to stream the live show, but if I can pull something together we will try to stream at http://www.ustream.tv/user/VerySpatial.

ESRI UC 2011 – Jeff’s First Exposition Hall Tour

On Tuesday at the ESRI UC I spent the majority of my day wandering through the many tables and displays set up in the exposition hall.   At first I was overwhelmed by the size of the exhibition hall and the number of exhibitors but as I walked through the displays I became impressed with the number of ingenious ways that society makes use of GIS.

ESRI had a fantastic set up this year with their showcase featuring workstations set up to help with specific skill sets or applications regarding ArcGIS.  Each station was staffed with knowledgeable assistants to help with your questions or comments.  I stopped by the Training and Certification to inquire about ESRI’s new technical certification program.  If you haven’t checked it out lately you should as large changes from their past instructor certification program have taken place.

Finally, I got the urge to enter drawings that many of the vendors were offering.  One such company was offering a large remote controlled helicopter and I couldn’t resist.  That entry led to a conversation with Bill Emison of Merrick & Company.  Bill informed me that Merrick & Company were demonstrating Lidar processing software and gave me the tour of their product Merrick Advanced Remote Sensing Software (MARS).

All I can say is wow! The software processes millions of points super fast!  After my whiplash settled down, Bill showed me some of the software’s capabilities in generating different GIS friendly formats, generating TIN surfaces, classification tools, and filtering abilities.  Merrick & Company provides a free viewer and a 30 day evaluation of the full viewer.  Definitely worth checking out if you make heavy use of Lidar data especially since it exports to so many usable formats.