Students Explore GIS Careers

HANNIBAL, NY – Students at Kenney Middle School got a glimpse of career options that use cutting edge technology Wednesday during Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Day.

According to teacher Robert Jones, the goal of GIS Day was “to help educate children as well as adults on the applications of geography and computer-aided mapping.”

GIS Day is held each year on the Wednesday during the National Geographic Society’s Geography Awareness Week. It was the first time that Kenney students have participated in the event.

kids“GIS Day is a global event for thousands of users of GIS technology to educate the public and demonstrate GIS technology at schools and organizations around the world,” Jones said.

Through the day, the school hosted a variety of guest speakers from local organizations, businesses, individuals, and colleges that use GIS (Geographic Information Systems). Through their presentations, the speakers shared how GIS technology is used in the real world to manage geographic information and solve problems.

For example, speaker David Hastings, Oswego County Director of Real Property Tax, explained how the county uses GIS Wednesday afternoon. Hastings explained that 60,000 parcels of land that are owned in Oswego County have all been detailed using GIS technology.

GIS tools take information from a database about a location, such as streets, buildings, water features, and terrain, and turns it into visual layers. The ability to see geographic features on a map gives users a better understanding of a particular location, enabling planners, analysts, and others to make informed decisions about their communities.

During his presentation, Hastings explained how that information is organized and made available to the public. Choosing a student from the class, Hastings pulled up photographs and details about the student’s home as a demonstration of that technology.hastings

“At least 80 percent of the students saw one or more presentation today,” Jones said at the end of the day.

As part of the experience, students designed GIS cakes that were cut up for dessert during lunch periods, he noted.

Students were also asked to fill out GIS worksheets. Those who submitted completed worksheets were given a sticker and a coupon to claim a prize that will be distributed today. Jones said Entergy has partnered with him in the effort for GIS day and funded the prizes that will be handed out.

“The outreach to the community for this day has been just wonderful,” Jones said. “Many people took time out of their day to come in and share this information with the students.”

And the students were impressed.

“It was awesome,” student Hailey Hayden said about GIS day.

While Hayden said she didn’t have a favorite part of the day, she said she enjoyed learning about the uses of GIS technology. She noted, too, that she may pursue a career in a field that uses GIS.

“It was really cool,” student Jennifer Riffle said.

Riffle said that she enjoyed Hastings’ presentation and found that being able to find out about her home and property on the Web was an interested part of his talk with her class.

As for her career options, Riffle said that she believes a job that involves GIS technology is inevitable.

“I think almost every job will use this in the future,” Riffle said.

Student Darryl Rupert said that he also enjoyed Hastings’ presentation. His favorite part, he said, was learning about the different layers of information that go into each property.

“That was pretty cool,” he said.

In addition to Hastings’ presentation, other participants included:

  • Rochester Institute for Technology
  • Cayuga Community College
  • Oswego County Soil and Water Conservation District
  • Oswego County Planning
  • Oswego County 911

(Gallery images submitted by Robert Jones)