Written by Undergraduates: Patricia Bencivenga (Major in Sociology), Carolynn Turneur (Biology Major) & PhD student Lain Graham (Sociology and GIS)

The Citizen Science GIS team took the maps, apps, and drones tour to Hart Memorial Library on February 10. About 50 adults and kids came to our public event in Kissimmee on Saturday. Our goal for the day was to provide a hands-on educational experience for our youth. Our team presented on the importance of GIS, and demonstrated how drones can be used to help study changes in our environment and to mitigate the effects of a disaster.

We taught our participants about Drones, GIS, and our own Citizen Science work in Belize, before lining up and gaining hands-on experience with drone flight.

During the event we were able to introduce drone technology and have the participants explore a new skill, drone mapping! Our team taught kids and adults alike how to fly a Parrot Mambo mini-drone; how to assess the area that they are flying over, and most importantly how to analyze the data they gathered by comparing it to other sources, for example, satellite imagery.

Patricia and Carolynn teach the aspiring drone pilot how to control our Parrot Mini-Drone, even though we’re sure he’s already logged plenty of flight time with his toy drone at home.

We had such a great time teaching parents, grandparents, and kids about all the possible uses of drone technology. One of our participants said “that if they had a drone, they would use it to see how far Burger King was from their home”, how neat!

One of our youngest participants gears up with goggles as Lain prepares the drone for take-off.

There was plenty of flying space and tons of eager new faces that were able to hone in on their flying skills. We had quite a few first-time fliers that were able to try out our mini-drones, and who turned out to be great pilots. Seeing people’s faces light up as their drones lifted into the air on their first try makes working for Citizen Science GIS so rewarding.

One of our participants flying the mini-drone over the model city.

Our visit, albeit quick, was memorable and we hope to be back in Kissimmee soon! We want to thank all the participants that showed up to learn on this hot winter day. Great public events like this one reaffirms our mission as researchers and makes us excited to provide the public with hands-on activities like this one, we hope that we inspired a few young minds through the power of science!



Lain Graham



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