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Summer 2003
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GIS Goes Global on Wednesday, November 19, 2003!

GIS Day 2003 to Celebrate Its Fifth Anniversary

Searching for a "pot of gold" in the Australian outback; studying earthquakes and volcanoes in Italy; learning about GIS careers in Biloxi, Mississippi; or competing to map their own "paradise island" in the British Virgin Islands—these are just a few activities that you might have found GIS Day 2002 participants engaged in last November.

Held as part of the National Geographic Society's Geography Awareness Week, GIS Day is a global event during which some of the more than two million GIS users around the world open their doors to schools, businesses, and the public to help spread a better awareness of this important technology. Last year 90 countries held GIS Day celebrations, and there were events in all 50 of the United States.

During the many GIS Day events that have occurred over the past four years, countless GIS Day volunteers and sponsors have educated millions of participating children and adults about the importance of geography and GIS.

This year marks GIS Day's fifth anniversary celebration. We hope the stories below will inspire you and your organization to join us on Wednesday, November 19, 2003, to become involved in this global educational mission.

Sydney, Australia

Last fall Sydney Olympic Parklands hosted more than 70 sixth grade students during its World GIS Day celebration. The education team from the Parklands teamed up with staff from Esri Australia to run a pilot program focusing on GIS technology. The participating students were divided up into 10 teams and sent out on a mission to find a "pot of gold." Scouring the site, the students collected, analyzed, and mapped various kinds of soil data including pH, permeability, temperature, type, texture, color, and smell to help them reach their goal of finding "the hidden treasure." Other important physical features were also mapped including roads, railroads, buildings, trees, and drainage lines. The students then used GIS to analyze the massive amounts of data in order to quickly find where the pot of gold was hidden.

Rome, Italy

GIS Day 2002 at the Rome International School culminated last November when special guest speakers Professor Mauro Pierdicca and Professor Maria Marsella from the Department of Engineering at Rome University, La Sapienza, visited and spoke to the students about using GIS to map and track earthquake and volcanic activity. Professor Marsella brought many colorful satellite images to share with the students, perhaps the most interesting being a recent image taken of Mount Etna.

After the introductory session, seventh and eighth grade students were given the opportunity to use ArcView to work on their geography class earthquake project. The students were able to load data and various maps using ArcView and query the information to answer questions on their project.

Biloxi, Mississippi

More than 150 students from D'Iberville and Picayune High Schools learned about the importance of GIS technology while attending the GIS Day event hosted by the Department of Marine Resources' (DMR) Comprehensive Resource Management Plan (CRMP) on November 20, 2002.

"GIS Day gave students the opportunity to learn more about this land use tool and how it can be used for smart growth and community development," says DMR CRMP Director Tina Shumate. "GIS was also introduced as a possible career option for these students to pursue."

CRMP is a special management program housed within DMR and focuses on using GIS for developing a comprehensive strategy to guide economic growth and development impacts on the environment.

British Virgin Islands

The British Virgin Islands (BVI) held its first GIS Day celebration last fall at the Government Administration Complex in Road Town on the island of Tortola. The event was held to show local community members how BVI's government departments are using GIS. During the opening ceremony Deputy Governor Elton Georges remarked on the success of the newly established National GIS, and Marva Titley, acting chief planner, talked about the history of GIS in the territory.

BVI's GIS Day program also included a poster display, hands-on demonstrations, and school tours throughout the afternoon. A competition for schoolchildren was also held asking the students to map their own "paradise island."

Alan Mills, National GIS coordinator, wrapped up the presentation by discussing the importance of geography to BVI and explained how the National GIS was helping to streamline government.

The World Is Waiting for You to Join the Celebration!

Now it is your turn to participate in this global mission to educate the world about geography and GIS technology. GIS Day can make a difference, so start planning how you will celebrate. Visit for support materials and ideas and to register your GIS Day 2003 event today.

GIS Day is principally sponsored by the Association of American Geographers, Esri, the Library of Congress, the National Geographic Society, Sun Microsystems, United States Geological Survey (USGS), and the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS).

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