Teachers from all over Central Florida came to UCF early Saturday, November 16th to learn about how the Maps, Apps, and Drones Tour and GeoBus operate in an interactive workshop. Throughout the course of the day, educators experience several activities that students around Central Florida have already been learning and discovering on their school’s campus. It’s a very unique experience to get to witness teachers have fun with technologies that help experience science in a different way than they have prior to this event. In a way, this experience is not unlike those that students also take part in through our Maps, Apps, and Drones Tour. The important link between our typical tour event and the teacher workshop is that the teachers were able to come up with practical ways to come alongside what we teach in our provided stations to help sustain learning and incorporate concepts for the students’ practical usage. As a student staff member, it was especially interesting to see how the learning stations directly apply to what the students are already learning in class.

What truly made this event a unique experience was to conceptually go through the stations and discuss what the students will actually be learning in each station. To summarize, the augmented reality sandbox teaches students about topography and the different concepts that come with varying elevations relating to erosion, rainfall, and disaster scenarios. The Sustain Our Schools activity discusses what it means for an area to practice sustainability and encourages students to recognize potential opportunities for sustainable programs at their schools. The Giant Florida Map helps students conceptualize the characteristics of a map relating to locating points and determining distance based on longitude and latitude, all while walking on the map itself. The mini-drone station gives students experience flying drones, as well as the notion that science can be quite fun!

All in all, the event would not have been such a success if it weren’t for the dedicated teachers who graciously gave up their Saturday to learn more about our program to inspire the next generation of scientists. We are especially grateful for their dedication to their students above all and we encourage any teacher out there to continue aiming high! It is through these partnerships with teachers that the Maps, Apps, and Drones Tour is able to happen. Also, we would like to make a special shout-out to Dr. Carley Lovorn from National Geographic for teaching a portion of the workshop by leading teachers through phase one of the National Geographic teacher certification process. She and all the visiting teachers helped make the event truly maptastic!

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