GPS and Computer Mapping

As part of a Providence, RI after school program, I taught a twelve-week long global positioning systems and computer mapping class intended for a middle school audience (grades 6-8). The class syllabus is provided below for comment.


Nathan Bishop Middle School
A picture of the last class.

Instructor: Bruce Donald Campbell

Prerequisites: None


We help advance conservation in partnership with nearly 1,000 aquariums, zoos, museums, conservation organizations, schools and agencies throughout the country and around the world. Our Watershed-to-Ocean Initiative specifically packages on-line geographical and social networking tools to help interested citizens engage in a process of helping a local (existing or emerging) organization in their community attain a key goal. Given the mission of The Ocean Project, we have been working on prototyping tools (for example, in partnership with Save the Bay) that can help citizen science groups actively coordinate activities that improve the water quality of the Narragansett Bay watershed (as a key success factor to conservation on many fronts) as well as connect to organizations throughout the region. Our demonstrations show how an interested citizen can go on-line to participate with a local coordinating organization (in the Narragansett Bay watershed, for example) and begin to gain a better visual literacy and personal involvement behavior as both are important skills in empowering citizens, either working individuals and in groups of people, to design, implement, and assess goals associated with a physical community. As we develop this initiative for use by our nearly 1,000 Partner institutions (to empower their ability to be a valued organizing force or empower them to facilitate a organizer in their community), we also want to empower organizations in and around Narragansett Bay (as a respected, competent, local Web tool and process developer). Young community members who gain exposure to this vision can start thinking differently about their place on the planet and also begin to help their families engage in meaningful actions to improve their neighborhoods, and their local environment, including Narragansett Bay.

Autumn 2009

Weekly Overview
1. Discussion of local environment and how scientists work to explore and observe the natural world
2. Exposure to on-line mapping systems and discussion of the real-world places they model
3. Exposure to Global Positioning Systems and how GPS devices help us know where we are on the planet
4. Discussion of the local watershed with methods for how to begin mapping home and neighborhood
5. Discussion of the key organizations in our community that use volunteers and citizens to improve the quality of local natural system
6. Exercises in understanding hydrology, chemistry, and mapping those concepts for local water system (stream-river-bay-ocean)
7. Exercises in tracking biological systems and making the connection between water quality and biological quality of life
8. Focus on personal responsibility and actions for improving community quality of life
9. Mapping a personal plan of action
10. Using social networking tools to share info
11. Review/and if interested discuss career options