GIS Education News Weekly: Zombies, Tornado Tutorial, SFU MOOC


Grant for Zombies

Leyden Credit Union awarded a $500 grant to Ryan Maicki from Hester Junior High in Franklin Park, IL. He was one of three recipients but the only one using it for geography.

Maicki will use his grant for his Zombie Geography project. Students will design a Post-Apocalyptic Zombie Settlement and will analyze map association with the Zombie outbreak and create different regions to warn citizens. Students will critique the physical characteristics of various regions, select location based on area and climate, and study resources. Human migration will be assessed as students describe local connections with the new settlement. Students then construct their settlements and discuss the impact that humans have on the environment. Once the apocalypse has concluded, students compare how different demographics changed the population as well as being introduced to different cultures that were still remaining and a plan to aid them in surviving.

Teaching and Learning Resources

QGIS Alabama Tornado Tutorial

Alex Walsh at offers a mini-tutorial on how to map tornado data from the Weather Service in QGIS.

Learning Progressions in Geography

NCRGE’s first project, GeoProgressions (, recently received funding from the National Science Foundation to build capacity for learning progressions research in geography. Popularized in math and science education, learning progressions were identified in the Road Map GERC report as having considerable potential for producing evidence of how students learn core concepts in geography across successive grade bands. This area of research also offers ample opportunities for geographers to forge interdisciplinary collaborations with researchers in math and science education.

In the coming months GeoProgressions will produce a research handbook and sponsor a workshop to train researchers in principles and methods of developing hypothetical learning progressions related to thinking, communicating and learning with maps and geospatial technologies (with specific connections to the U.S. national geography standards). NCRGE will coordinate the future research activities by the participants, compile and synthesize findings, and issue reports through a research clearinghouse on the NCRGE website (

Free Online Self-paced GIS Course

Exploring Geographic Information Systems is a free course on Canvas from Shivanand Balram, Ph.D. Senior Lecturer, Spatial Information Science at Simon Fraser University. I wrote about the details here.

Digging Up Dinosaurs for Credit
Burpee Museum is partnering with Elmhurst College during the 2014 field season. In conjunction with Burpee Museum’s Highway to Hell Creek expeditions to Ekalaka, Montana, Elmhurst College will be offering three online summer classes. These classes will culminate in an onsite visit to Burpee for field orientation and participation in the August 4-8, 2014 expedition.
The classes are for undergrads, high school students and educators:

Undergraduate course: GEO 468: Geography/Geosciences Internship/Field Experience

(0.5 credits; P/F);  Summer Field Experience for traditional undergraduate students. Not to be used as an internship.

Dual-credit course: (High School Students): GEO 100: Field Methods for the Prospective STEM Student

(0.25 credits); Dual credit course for high school students. Students will also receive college credit if they attend Elmhurst College.

Graduate course: MTL 580: Comparative Studies – Montana

(2 graduate semester hours); Graduate course for secondary educators interested in STEM Teaching in the field.

Other News

Geospatial Niagara – Geographic Education Town Hall Meeting

The Geospatial Niagara – Geographic Education Town Hall Meeting is Tuesday, May 27, 2014 6:00 – 9:00 pm at  Laura Secord Secondary School – James H. Smith Performing Arts Theatre,
349 Niagara Street, St. Catharines, ON. It's free but tickets are required.

Our goal for this Town Hall is to engage students in Grades 7-12, their parents/guardians and educators to;

  • raise awareness of the St. John’s Declaration across Niagara
  • promote the importance of a geographic education across the District School Board of Niagara and the Niagara Catholic District School Board
  • provide insight to attendees as to the career paths available with a geographic education
  • answer questions posed by the attendees with regards to a geographic education
  • be the spark that ignites a passion in students to be part of the talent pool that will create and attract a geospatial technology/information cluster to Niagara.

UCGIS Honors UCSB Professor Church

UC Santa Barbara geography professor Richard Church has been selected for the 2014 University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS) Research Award for his highly cited “Maximal Covering Location Problem” paper and relevant fundamental contributions to geographic information science (GIS). Church will receive the award May 21 at the UCGIS summer symposium in Pasadena, California, where he will address the audience.

Student Projects

Wealthier Residents Live with Airport Noise

The standard of living is high for Oshawa residents most affected by noise from the Oshawa Municipal Airport, a study by Chris Hart is a fourth-year geography student at Trent University in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada.

The honours student’s study found that residents living with the most airport noise have more expensive homes than the average Oshawa resident, higher incomes, better education and are more likely to have a job.

Kids Mapping Kids

Programs Grow

New GeoLab for Texas A&M

Texas A&M Corpus Christie currently offers the only combined geomatics and GIS-focused Bachelor of Science degree in Texas. It's opening a new Geospatial Computing Laboratory (GCL) to prep for further demand and a PhD to be offered starting in 2015.

ASU Bachelor's Degree in GIS Launches this Fall
The new bachelor’s degree in geographic information science (GIS), available beginning in fall 2014, pairs the practical skill of computer science with conceptual knowledge of geographical problem-solving and spatial thinking. Translation: many students will go on to work on the forefront of mapping, navigation and location-based software design for major companies.
So what makes it special?

“Many schools across the country teach students how to use specialized Geographic Information Systems software – but ASU’s program is one of the very few in the country that offers students the opportunity to learn how to develop the software,” explained [Elizabeth] Wentz [Elizabeth Wentz, director of ASU’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning]. “At the same time, we have some of the leading spatial scientists in the world at ASU – who also are highly involved in teaching the courses in the new GIS program.”

Published Thursday, May 8th, 2014

Written by Adena Schutzberg

Published in


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