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Winter 2002/2003
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A Global Success Story!

GIS Day 2002

GIS Day logoWhat do students at Moi University in Kenya, Africa; teachers all over the state of North Carolina; professors at Harvard University; librarians at Montana State Library; and employees at the Ministry of Natural Resources in Ontario, Canada, all have in common?

These organizations and thousands of others worked diligently to plan original, educational, and sometimes even elaborate events within their local communities to help celebrate the fourth annual global GIS Day. During GIS Day 2002, 86 countries around the globe participated, and hundreds of thousands of children and adults were educated about the importance of geography and the role that GIS plays in support of geography.

The following are just a few examples of the many events that were held around the planet as organizations in dozens of industries came together to proclaim, "I love geography," introducing the power of GIS technology to the world on November 20, 2002.

The Oklahoma Alliance for Geographic Education and Topographic, Inc.

The Oklahoma Alliance for Geographic Education (OKAGE) and Topographic, Inc., an Esri Business Partner, recently held their GIS Day and Geography Action 2002 activities November 23-26 at the Omniplex Science and Air Space Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The event helped to debut the special Titanic exhibit, the newest display at the Omniplex.

Children ages five through 13 enjoyed the many geography-related activities set up in a special Geography Action area of the Omni-plex. Live GPS seminars demonstrating handheld equipment were presented twice daily in the greenhouse of the museum. Geography quizzes were given throughout the day, which included difficult questions that even challenged most of the adults. Interactive geography and mapping activities were available for children and teachers to learn more about the Titanic. Maps of the ship's route and iceberg patterns were introduced to help attendees understand more about the Titanic's location when it left Europe and where it sank. And, for the third year in a row, the Omniplex' tables were turned into "continents" for the Geography Hunt--the event's highlight activity.

Cusco, Peru

Miguel Landa, an architect at the Instituto Nacional de Cultura--Proyecto Qhapaq Nan, in Cusco, Peru, organized the GIS Day seminar this year. Qhapaq Nan is a Quechua phrase that means "Royal Road." Miguel's GIS Day mission was to demonstrate to public authorities how using GIS technology could be valuable in recovering and mapping the old Inca Royal Road that started in the city of Cusco, Peru, and continued south to Quito, Ecuador; through La Paz, Bolivia; and on to Santiago, Chile. This was a wonderful GIS Day activity that serves as an example of how GIS technology can make a difference in preserving local history and heritage.

Houston, Texas

On November 22, 2002, the Geographic Data Committee of the Houston Galveston Area Council sponsored GIS Day 2002. More than 300 teachers and students took part in the half-day event held on the downtown campus of the University of Houston.

Following the opening lecture hall session given by National Aeronautics and Space Administration representatives, the students were escorted to the remaining four concurrent sessions. The first session included an action-packed 3D video flyby over a digital map and short presentations from professional GIS users from the Houston area. The second session focused on a GPS, Pocket PC, and laser rangefinder field exercise designed to expose the students to data capture methods. The third session included a hands-on Internet GIS lab where students were able to explore maps and associated data on the Internet. The fourth session was an exhibit hall tour of more than 30 professional GIS users from the Houston area.

GIS Scouting Weekend in South Africa

For the second year in a row, Sinoville Boy Scout Troop No. 36 celebrated GIS Day; however, they celebrated early by holding a scouting weekend October 11-13 at the Roodeplaat Dam in South Africa. Scouts from the Tshwane area were invited to participate in the camping weekend that involved hands-on experience and training in GIS and GPS technology. The scouts were able to apply their new knowledge right away by using GPS to navigate along a 10 km hike; then they went on to analyze their hiking route with GIS. Although GIS and GPS mapping are the logical progression from the compass, the troop leaders still made sure to teach the scouts the basics of field navigation. They are hoping to continue to teach and expose the scouts to the power of GPS and GIS technology and anticipate that the GIS scouting weekend will continue to grow each year.

Lessons on Geography in Literature at GDT

Geographic Data Technology (GDT), a leading data provider based in Lebanon, New Hampshire, and longtime Esri Business Partner, participated heavily in GIS Day 2002 activities throughout the northeastern United States. GDT's GIS Day enthusiasts helped to send out instructor packets to more than 40 local schools that included official GIS Day materials, a teacher's guide to mapping, Internet links for online classroom activities, and giveaways for the students.

Throughout the month of November, GDT employees went to many kindergarten-3 classrooms to present their Geography in Literature program. The program entailed reading the story of Little Red Riding Hood and moving Little Red, the wolf, and the woodcutter down the path to grandmother's house. The maps used were created by GDT's Mapping Service Department to convey to the students that there are geographical references in many things we see, hear, and do.

The GIS Day Committee would like to thank all who participated in GIS Day 2002 by helping to make it yet another global success. Please remember to submit your GIS Day 2002 photos and success stories to the GIS Day Web site at GIS Day 2003 is scheduled for Wednesday, November 19, 2003--be sure to mark your 2003 calendar today so you can celebrate with us again.

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