The GIT Ahead project, a teacher education program funded by the National Science Foundation, held a workshop for science instructors on Saturday, Nov. 11. The program focused on student assessment through lessons that incorporate geospatial information technology (GIT). GIT Ahead teachers are using the skills they learn through the program to develop environmentally focused lessons and units that incorporate geographic information systems (GIS) software and related technologies.
Professor Jim MaKinster of the Education Department, Karen Edelstein of the Finger Lakes Institute and Nancy Trautmann of Cornell University led the all day workshop on the HWS campus.
The teachers started their day by using GIS software to explore the potential impact of global climate change on the melting of polar ice caps and the resulting increase in sea level. The ArcGIS software enabled the teachers to investigate what impact a 5-meter and 50-meter sea level rise would have on natural and human made communities around the world. This experience was then used as the basis for a conversation about the challenges of assessing students using geospatial technologies in the context of problem-based scenarios.
Because their needs are so different, ranging from Regents Earth Science to upper-level environmental science, the teachers also spent time working on their own lessons and units in addition to reviewing the use of handheld GPS units to collect and analyze spatial data collected in local contexts.
The GIT Ahead Project is funded through an $899,000 National Science Foundation grant to the Finger Lakes Institute. GIT Ahead provides teacher professional development, educational software development, and career awareness and preparation experiences for high school students in schools throughout the Finger Lakes region.
The project, co-directed by MaKinster and Trautmann, aims to help high school students see geospatial technologies as pathways to relevant, exciting, and high-demand careers, and to create higher education pathways for students who might not otherwise pursue such goals. Other members of the project team include Karen Edelstein and Marion Balyszak at the Finger Lakes Institute, John Halfman, professor of environmental studies at HWS, Dana Piwinski at the Institute for the Application of Geospatial Technology, and Abu Badruddin, associate professor of GIS at Cayuga Community College.