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Educational Environmental Projects,
using Technology Applications,
For Middle School Students in Formal
and Non-Formal Settings

Harriett S. Stubbs, Ph.D.

With contributions from
Kris Fowler, Jessica Ball, Nain Singh, DeeDee Whitaker, and Bennett Hawley

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DeeDee, Rita and Kris identify trees using field guides
DeeDee, Rita and Kris identify trees using field guides
In 1996, SCI-LINK in the College of Education at NC State University, offered its first workshops focusing on Geographic Information Systems (GIS). These workshops aimed to support individuals in the use of environmental data to solve problems, using technology and new scientific findings. Workshop participants have introduced these concepts to students in their classrooms grades 5-12, as well as museums, nature centers, and other non-formal locations.

Related Articles

GIS as a Tool in Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies:
Student, Teacher, and Community Perspectives

Winter 1998

Introducing Geography and Technology into Science Via Biodiversity
Winter 2002

Visualizing Earth from the Classroom
Winter 1999

Over the past five years, in order to reach educators across North Carolina, and to overcome perceived barriers to introducing this more complex technology tool, a conceptual model was developed in 2000 entitled the 5-Step Leadership Model (Stubbs, 2000). Hagevik, utilizing SCI-LINK publications and the GIS workshops, developed a curriculum, MOSS (Mapping Our School Site and (Step II of the 5-Step Model) that has spawned a number of individual projects. Four projects are mentioned as exemplary cases of what can happen in formal and non-formal settings.

The 5-Step GIS Leadership Development Model.

The GIS Leadership Model is a graduated program composed of a five-step series of workshops and projects. After completing the five steps, educators engage in a leadership component that enables them to become mentors and workshop instructors for other teachers. In their teaching, educators demonstrate increased learning and application of geographic information systems. A brief overview of each workshop follows, indicating the focus and software used. Each workshop focuses on a specific area of the environment and includes presentations by scientists, information personnel,
Observing and collecting data on macroinvertebrates
Observing and collecting data on
and GIS professionals, emphasizing educational applications. In addition, management and pedagogy related to the implementation and integration of science, mathematics, and technology into instruction are addressed. These workshops are NOT just learning software programs. These workshops ARE about gaining specific knowledge using technology applications as tools for further analysis, understanding, and learning. For example, workshops in the first three years focused on the environmental topic of hazardous waste. Workshops in the last two years have furthered knowledge of non-point source pollution, or polluted run-off – problems of water pollution.

Overview of the 5-Step GIS Leadership Model

All workshops focus on an environmental topic. Topics of past workshops include hazardous waste, river basins, watersheds, health issues, and polluted run-off.

  Workshop Description Software Utilized
Step I Introduction to maps, spatial thinking, and learning about an environmental problem. ArcVoyager GIS software
Step II Mapping a specific site, monitoring components and parameters of this environment (plants, temperature, animals, cover, water and run-off, and non-living components such as soil and air). MOSS [Mapping Our School Site], GPS, GLOBE protocols, CityGreen, hand-held devices, ArcView 3.x
Step III Community focus, field trips to compare various environmental factors at different locations. Individual project developed. Beginning GIS using ArcView 3.x.
Step IV Individual project developed by each educator augmented with an APlan, a document that reflects the participant’s integrated response to and use of all components in the GIS program in his/her educational setting. Advanced GIS using
ArcView 3.x.
Step V Each educator is responsible for developing his/her individual project. Three days are spent in the classroom (two days with supervision by graduate students) and one day with subject matter experts. Two days are spent in the community, contacting cooperators and specific partners for each project, following the design of the APlan. Completed project plans submitted for review. GIS, CityGreen, ArcVoyager


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Meridian: A Middle School Computer Technologies Journal
a service of NC State University, Raleigh, NC
Volume 8, Issue 1, Winter 2005
ISSN 1097 9778
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