This summer, the GIS Program held the very first Geospatial Discoveries METS Guild Day Camp for youth, with ages ranging from ten to sixteen. GIS Project Manager Luis Machado was the principle teacher and counselor for the camp, helped by two of our summer interns, Ronnie Hastings ’19 and Catilin Croke ’18. With a total of 16 camp kids involved, the three had a very busy week!
The week-long camp started on July 24th, with parents dropping kids off at 100 Gibson Ave, the current home of the Larrabee Arts Center at Washington College. The goal of the camp was to teach the camp kids how to visualize geographic data and learn the fundamentals of GIS. Along the way, lessons were planned to teach the basics of circuitry, web maps, remote sensing and human-machine interactions.
The camp kids learned skills that are used by GIS professionals all over the world. The technology they were exposed to, including GPS units, databases, and online data layers are constantly used by interns and staff at the GIS Program. Making it accessible to a younger audience was challenging, but every lesson built on material that was already successfully taught during the METS Guild of Chestertown.
Each day, campers participated in an abundance of activities. The days started with games to keep fresh the names of everyone present, test memory and give everyone a jolt of energy. Lessons quickly followed, each day focused around a different topic; from optics on Monday to electricity on Tuesday, remote sensing on Wednesday to databases on Thursday, the students learned the pieces that allowed the review on Friday of Geographic Information Systems as a whole.
No matter what the lessons were for the day, there was always plenty of time for games. Sharks and Minnows became a special favorite of the camp! Other games included amoeba tag, assassin, mafia (taught by Travis Stotts, one of our campers!), and the end of the day was celebrated with board games. Given the number of kids interested in playing chess, maybe our next camp should be a chess camp?
To give the camp kids the best experience possible, we brought in experts to give special presentations. Sam Stanton and Tyler Pease from the Queen Anne’s County Department of Planning and Zoning led a lesson and demo about drones. Campers had the opportunity to view the Stadium and the surrounding grounds of Washington College from a bird’s eye view as the two instructors flew the drone. That ended our Monday, with everyone learning about flight safety and FAA regulations for drones!
On Tuesday, Professor Shaun Ramsey from the Computer Science Department joined us for a full day of lessons on electricity, circuit management, and programming. At the end of the day, the campers had learned some basic code, and they each got to walk away with an electronic dice roller that they built! Using Arduino systems, some resistors and a 7-series LED switch, the campers built their own tool and they got to keep the Arduino so they can build future projects!
The last couple days of the summer camp the focus was all about the data. Campers learned how to make sense of coordinate systems, create attribute tables and spatially locate points. They also learned how to interpret map symbology and what it means to create narrative using visualization tools. By Friday, the campers each had an online profile on ArcGIS Online and had created a viewable webmap. The week ended with the campers giving a lightening-style presentation of their map and what they learned at camp.
Inside and outside of the classroom, the campers laughed, joked, learned, and engaged with the professional cutting edge of geospatial technology. The camp lasted five days, but students took with them the technology, access, and training to keep them going for months to come. Most of all, they got to create and learn in the same way our interns at the GIS Program do! We hope to continue seeing our campers for years to come as we continue providing diverse experiences sharing our technology skills with the local community!
Washington College GIS Program would like to give a huge shout out to Upper Shore Regional Council, Earth Data, and all of our other sponsors for making the METS Guild Camp possible! We had a lot of fun, as one can see from our Flickr, that includes all of the photos from the camp week!