Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Dover High School Utilizes WC GIS Curriculum

     The Washington College GIS lab wanted to create a curriculum and make it available to public and privates schools with students of all ages, including K-12 programs. This program introduces students to the many skills that they will need if they want to continue studying GIS. Dover High School of Pennsylvania has been working with WC GIS for at least six years. Collaboration began after Mr. Benton met WC GIS director Stew Bruce at a GIS training course.

     Members of the WC GIS staff worked together to create this curriculum with ESRI and the Maryland Department of Education. Stew divided the work between different staff members to create one program. The overall goal in creating this curriculum was to provide a way for schools to offer GIS courses to their students free of charge. This alternative curriculum, as opposed to ones that can be very expensive, provides the same opportunities to schools that may not be able to afford programs like this otherwise. This curriculum is available online and is a great way for schools to help their students of all backgrounds to expand their education. This curriculum is offered to students in grades K-12. Elementary school students learn the basic concepts of GIS such as how to read a map and what the different parts of a map are like the compass and the legend.

      The program at Dover High School began with a GIS 1 class, and each semester thereafter they added another course until the GIS 1-4 classes were integrated into the school. Students complete their work for these classes using an external website, Moodle. Scott Goode was a teacher at the Intermediate School and he worked with Mr. Benton to teach a few GIS lessons in his 8th grade Technology Education classes. “I began Geocoaching, Google Earth exercises and even played capture the flag.” Goode now teaches at the High School where he meets with his students for 88 minutes a day for 90 days. “I believe the Dover Students benefit immensely from the program offered at our school. When students write to PA communities asking for GIS data, I usually get a response something like, “You actually teach that in High School!” Some of our students take the class because they have an interest, others take because they like computers, while there are some that just take the class because they need a Technology Credit to graduate. “

      The students at Dover High School have been enthusiastic about the program. This bright group of students includes a wide range of talents and interests, in everything from computer engineering to biology.
     Senior Raymond Caha took GIS I and GIS II, and is planning a career working with the government in cyber security. He says that the GIS classes have helped him gain more knowledge about map programs, and given him insight about possible career paths that use GIS. He has already begun planning for his future, and will be heading to Texas for basic training in the Air Force this summer.
Senior Raymond Caha, GIS I & II

     Another student who completed both GIS I and II is Ariel Jones. Ariel, a senior, intends to go on to college and major in biology, and is also planning to continue her study of GIS. She says that she has already been accepted to several colleges, but she is hoping to find a school that has a GIS program. She feels that GIS will be useful to her in the future, by helping to record the locations of the animals she plans to study. Ariel’s long-term goal is to achieve a PhD in biology.
Senior Ariel Jones, GIS I & II

     Dover High School’s GIS curriculum has introduced students to a variety of GIS programs, such as ArcMap, ArcCatalog, and Google SketchUp. Students at the high school have already been able to put these skills to use at internship programs. Dominic Krout, a senior who is currently working as an intern at the Dover Municipal Building. Dominic, who has completed all four GIS classes, says that skills he’s learned in the GIS program have been invaluable. “I’ll forever use Trimble and ArcMap, as well as ArcCatalog and possibly Garmin.”
Senior Dominic Krout, GIS I-IV
     It isn’t just upper-classmen who are interested in GIS. Younger students have also been taking the GIS classes. Sophomore Casey Long has already completed GIS I and GIS II. He plans to complete GIS III and IV during his remaining time at Dover High School, and hopes to get an internship or job in the GIS field. After high school he plans to go to college and continue to study GIS. Over the summer he will be visiting several colleges, including Washington College. Eventually, Casey would like to work in a career that uses GIS and cartography. In the meantime, however, he is going to enjoy his summer. “I will be turning sixteen, so I want to get my learner’s permit and a job somewhere.”
Sophomore Casey Long, GIS I & II
     The GIS program has also introduced Dover HS students to the Washington College community. One student, senior Daniel Benton, has had such a positive experience that he plans to work for the Washington College GIS Lab over the summer, and will be attending Washington College in the fall.
Senior Daniel Benton
     The program at Dover has provided internships in the local community to seniors who have completed the GIS 1-4 part of the program. The students have opportunities to intern with York County Planning Commission, York County Control 911, York New Salem Borough, Dover Township, and DCNR. Dover High School has taken this program one step further and linked the program to higher education through Harrisburg University. They have an agreement with the university that three college credits will be award to students who successfully complete the GIS 1-4 classes. The skills that this curriculum provides give Pennsylvania students an opportunity to gain a leg up in this competitive job market. According to Goode, “We have 3-4 students per year that go to college to further their education in the GIS field. We currently have students at the following Universities: Shippensburg, Harrisburg, and Penn State.”

     Dover’s GIS students have also been exposed to national opportunities since the inception of this program including several events in the Geospatial community. Two students presented and attended the 2010 Geoint conference in New Orleans. In the past two years, Dover students have participated in USGIF Tech Days in Reston VA. Additionally, one of Dover’s GIS graduates last year also won the USGIF student scholarship award.

      This program has been a great learning opportunity for students at Dover High School. It has exposed them to a lot of new skills that they can use to advance their career opportunities in the future. The local internships that this program has provided will also assist these students in building their resumes and create career opportunities for themselves. If you are interested in implementing this program at your school, or know someone else who might be interested the program can be accessed at

Dover High School with Terrain.
3D Image Sketch by: Senior Daniel Benton

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