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GISCorps Volunteer teaching Spatial Thinking/GIS to students - California

By Javier Aguilar

As a volunteer of the GISCorps, I have been able to expose elementary school children to spatial thinking and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). I teach a one hour long hands-on class to kids 2nd to 5th grades at Walnut Elementary School in Baldwin Park, California. I teach a one hour long hands-on class to kids 2nd to 5th grades at Walnut Elementary School in Baldwin Park, California. This class is every other Friday as part of the school’s Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program (in where one week GIS is taught in computer lab and the other week an education enrichment class by the school’s GATE coordinator) as part of an after school program. This Spatial Thinking/GIS class is only possible from the help of other recruited volunteers to assist in the computer lab: Ms. Christine Heinrichs (school principal), Mrs. Ana Aguilar (parent of 2 children in the program), Mr. Sam Garcia (school technical specialist), and Ms. Miss Gamiochipe (school GATE coordinator).

Javier Aguilar teaching GIS to elementary students

Currently, we have thirty children enrolled in the Spatial Thinking/GIS program. In the last few sessions, the children have explored land use, transportation, building footprints, and aerial data for the City of Baldwin Park.  Currently, we are in processing of mapping our routes to school for the children that live in Baldwin Park or a route to the library from Walnut Elementary School for children who outside Baldwin Park’s city limits.   Based on our newly created GIS data, we will calculated our travel time from our origin and destination for the modes of walking and bicycling.  Our routes to school maps will help inform the city’s and school district’s current SAFE ROUTES TO SCHOOL study, by giving a perspective of children in their travel to school and other destinations in Baldwin Park.

Students draw maps by hand (to see more maps, click on the photo)

Most of the children are minority and come from low income families. Walnut Elementary is a Title I school that faces many challenges that occur in disadvantaged communities. Nonetheless, the school excels because of its wonderful principal, dedicated staff, and caring and involved parents. More importantly, the school is filled with beautiful and intelligent children filled with curiosity and promise to learn and strive for more knowledge. Truly, the GISCorps provides a wonderful opportunity to contribute to a better world for everyone, everywhere!

GISCorps volunteer from California continues educating students about GIS

Javier Aguilar, a GISCorps volunteer who has been educating elementary school students about maps and GIS is continuing his efforts in collaboration with LA County Assessor’s office during GIS Day celebration and beyond. Following is a photo of Javier and a group of students.