Skills USA – and the winners are

As we have already mentioned Suzanne Rousie of SUNY Buffalo took home the gold in this years Skills USA Geospatial Technology Challenge, but what we haven’t been able to share with you was that Kevin Williams of the University of Arkansas took home the silver. This year there were only two medals given out, so congrats to the two medalists and better luck next year to everyone else who participated. It is great to see organizations like SkillsUSA working to support individuals and industry through competitions that encourage and challenge students.

Skills USA Champion ‘announced’

The Amherst Bee yesterday announced that Sue Rousie of Amherst, NY is the champion of this years Geospatial Technology Skills USA challenge. This has not been posted on the Skills USA page yet, but we will be sure to update this post with the other medalists as soon as we can find out their names.

Penn State Geospatial Technology Summer Camp

Penn State is offering a summer camp for 12-18 year-olds to give kids hands-on experience with GIS, GPS, and other geospatial technologies. The camp will be held from July 31st-August 4th at Penn State’s University Park campus. I think this is a great idea, and I wish we could get something like that started here. When we have hosted high school and middel school students in the past, they have really been excited when they can actually use GIS, even if it’s just panning and zooming around to find features or making simple maps.

If you’d like to find out more info, check out the camp’s webpage

Maps101 – The problem with commercial education websites

I was looking up some domain names to register (I always look, but only own 2 domains) and thought of geography101.com. When I found it was taken I had to go see what great site had grabbed up that morsel of education goodness. I was definitely disappointed by what I found.

The URL forwarded me to maps101.com, another great domain name sure, but a login blocked web site that tauts that they are “The online learning program for teachers, librarians, students and parents, featuring thousands of maps, classroom activities, educational quizzes and more”. Unfortunately I will never know if this is true since there is not a single piece of information that can be accessed without logging in…other than subscription information that is.

With so many web companies realizing that in order to better monetize their products they have to loosen the reigns a little you would think more companies would take note. If you are an education oriented website with thousands of items, couldn’t you put a few out for people who stumble by to take a look? Even the Discovery Channel’s new education service/website (the name is escaping me) offers a few samples to get you hooked before you plunk down the cash to join. I am not suggesting that Maps101.com shouldn’t pay a few salaries, just provide a little content to help educate the masses AND lure the interested in for more.

Either way, if you are at an institution that has Maps101, leave a comment or send us a review to post so that we can know what it is like in the inner sanctum.

I should point out that they do mention a Free Trial option. But come on, we are on the web, who has the attention span to sign up for a free trial that doesn’t pop-up right away.

Maps101 — Social Studies, Geography, History, Lesson Plans, Online Education, K-12, Maps101, Geography in the News

URISA’s response to Geospatial LOB RFI

URISA has posted their reponse to the Geospatial LOB RFI that was announced last month. Import Cartography links to the URISA pdf and talks a little about. In my distoriented state (recovering from the last day of conference activities and lack of sleep) I am not going to dip too deeply into their document. Instead I will simply say I agree with many of URISA’s perspectives especially the section title ‘”No New Funds”: Not Realistic’. We will definitely speak a little more about this in the podcast this weekend when we have all had a chance to sleep in :-). Definitely head over to the URISA website to check out the organization and the document. Finally, I will echo Adena’s curiosity as to who else will post their response to the RFI.

Yet Another Study Demonstrates young Americans’ Geography Illiteracy

The National Geographic-Roper Public Affairs 2006 Geographic Literacy Study was just released, with more sad news about young Americans’ (aged 18-24) lack of even basic geography skills like reading a map. Only 50% or less of the surveyed people could identify New York or Ohio on a map, and 88 percent couldn’t find Afghanistan, and about 60% couldn’t find Iraq. Those kind of statistics go on and on, but here’s what I think is the really disappointing stat that was quoted in the news article: “Fewer than three in 10 think it important to know the locations of countries in the news and just 14% believe speaking another language is a necessary skill.” At the rate that globalization is changing the world, an attitude that only America matters or, more specifically, “my backyard” (considering a lot of the survey respondents couldn’t even identify other US states), just isn’t going to cut it. As someone who in theory is pursuing a PhD in Geography so I can teach others, I have to say it’s really depressing, but the real issue will be to try to figure out how to reverse the trend.

Via CNN.com

Getting there is half the fun

The New Yorker recently ran an interesting article entitled Annals of the Road: Getting There that looks at maps and mapping technologies from a few angles including riding in a Navteq ground-truthing vehicle. A different perspective than what you normally get as someone in the industry and well researched. An interesting read, but be sure to set aside a solid 10-15 minutes since it is a New Yorker article :-).

Thanks to listener, and winner of our 1/2 year contest, Adella for the ‘heads-up’ and for sending Frank an email.

Associations/Groups – American Congress on Survey and Mapping

The American Congress on Survey and Mapping is made up of four member organizations, which serve as special interests groups including:

  • The American Association for Geodetic Surveying – AAGS
  • The Cartography and Geographic Information Society – CAGIS
  • The Geographic and Land Information Society – GLIS
  • The National Society of Professional Surveyors, Inc. – NSPS
  • The genearl mission of the ACSM at large is “to advance the sciences of surveying and mapping and related fields, in furtherance of the welfare of those who use and make maps; to encourage the development of educational programs in surveying, mapping and charting; and to support publications that represent the professional and technical interests of surveying and mapping. To accomplish these objectives, ACSM engages in a number of core activities.”

    Beyond their focus on professionals, the ACSM and its member organizations offer support to students through reduced membership dues and annual awarded competitions. As you might expect, head over the ACSM website to find out more details

    Trying to Stop Extinction Before It Happens

    The BBC has an interesting article about a group trying to pinpoint speicies that might soon be candidates for extinction. The idea is that if you can identify a speicies in trouble before the critical point, you can save more of them (clearly). Apparently this group has identified 20 areas that are prime for human development and thus potential species extinction.