Written by Undergraduate Carolynn Turneur (Biology Major) & PhD student Lain Graham (Sociology and GIS)

The Citizen Science GIS Team took the maps, apps, and drones tour to Winter Springs Elementary on March 13th. We spent time with five 5th grade classes totaling around 210 students. Our main goal was to educate these enthusiastic youngsters about GIS and how drones are used to gather a multitude of data to help study environmental changes throughout different areas of the world. Our team was able to bring an exciting and educational workshop on how to collect field data using mini-drones with two simulation models, mimicking a residential city/town.

Carolynn (Standing on the Stairs) giving a presentation to one of the 5th-grade classrooms about drones, and our fieldwork in Belize, before letting them become pilots themselves.

During the event, we were surprised to find out that most of the students we worked with already knew how to fly drones. A handful of them had their own personal drones that they used at home. Our team taught the 5th graders at Winter Springs Elementary on how to analyze their data from the mini-drones to satellite imagery that’s widely available.

Lain (on the left) assisting our young pilot fly the drone over one of our simulation models, while the kids behind are waiting patiently and full of excitement for their turn next.

We had a marvelous time spending our spring break with these group of students. Not only did we assist students on flying the drones we also helped the teachers of these classrooms become pilots themselves. During the end of our presentation before we handed the drones off to the students, we asked each group of students to tell us what they wanted to be in life and explained to them how GIS could be used in their career field. We had some wonderful answers, one student said they wanted to be a “chief”, another a “doctor” and two more students an “engineer”.

Carolynn (left) watching one of our drone pilots prepare for flight. On the right, we have one of our 5th-grade students helping her teacher fly over our coastal model with the mini-drone.

There was a lot of excitement from the students at Winter Spring Elementary, each 5th-grade classroom we taught participated in our group discussions, allowing us to see what they learned from our workshop. As a team, we learned a lot from each individual student, and we hope they were able to learn how to use drones beyond flying and how they might be used to help solve a multitude of problems. Witnessing how these students were able to quickly grasp GIS and drone technology makes Citizen Science GIS’s outreach program rewarding. These children are the leaders of tomorrow, and what they are doing will help serve a greater purpose to the world, we hope to inspire them to think about ways to incorporate technology into their passions.

Lain (standing on the stairs) giving a final discussion over everything we learned that day. She is testing the students on important concepts they learned while with us, before the next class come in.

Our stop to Winter Springs Elementary was fun, memorable, and rewarding. We hope these wonderful students and teachers had a great time learning about drones and GIS. Although our time went by quick, we enjoyed every second of it and we hope to work with this school again. With our maps, apps, and drones tour we hope to enlighten students about science and encourage students to think about science and technology as avenues of exploration for their futures. If you are interested in our tour coming to your school, please let us know!

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