This blog is all about the cool things you can do with Geographic Information Systems and the people behind the magic.
Tuesday, February 4, 2020
The Students Become the Teachers in GIS’ METS Guild
At the beginning of the school year, the Verizon Foundation awarded a grant to the GIS Program. With the grant, GIS launched a new learning project, working with the Upper Shore Regional Council, for area students in grades 7-9 called the METS Guild of Chestertown.
Stewart Bruce, GIS program coordinator, said that the aim of the project is to give students the chance to work with GIS and other digital technologies. “Our goal is to turn STEM education around by providing innovative, out-of-class environment where students learn by working on real-world projects,” he said.
After a rigorous application process, 26 students were selected to take part in one of the three offered tracks: Web Design, 3D Visualization and Gaming, and GIS. Sixteen students are enrolled in 3D/Virtual, seven in Webdesign, and three in GIS.
Each of the courses are taught by a student Journeyman with the aid of other interns at the lab.
Alyann Grant is among one of the student interns leading the 3D Visualization and Gaming track. Along with members Steve McFall, Alex Roberts, Caleb Powell and Casey Williams, she teaches the students how to create 3D models, particularly on buildings and game assets. They use programs like Google Sketchup, 3DS Max, Unity and Photoshop.
The three-hour classes typically start by doing a quick introduction to the program, explaining its uses and drawbacks, its use in the real world and what the students will be doing that day. Then a teacher goes through the model creation project step by step, projected on the board for the sixteen students in the track to follow.
As the students complete their eight-week training in the fall, they’ll begin to work with real-world projects in the spring. Currently, Dr. Bruce is considering having them work on modeling Chestertown.
“Teaching a large group of kids is definitely different,” Grant said. “There have been challenges but it has been very rewarding to see them progress and get excited about modeling.”
Through this process, Grant has been gaining teaching skills, which is beneficial to her, as she wants to pursue a career as a professor.
“While the experience will definitely be different, I think that this teaching experience is still very beneficial to me. I am also learning more about modeling. There have been times where I have discovered new things about a program when the student encounters problems I haven’t seen before,” she said.
Alex Roberts, another intern leading the 3D Visualization and Gaming team, said the experience is fun and rewarding. “It’s interesting and I believe it is for a good cause. I have never done anything like this before, so it is a little nerve-wracking, but it is still a very good thing in the end,” he said.
He thinks that it will improve his skills in patience, tutoring, communication, and leadership are improving.
The METS Guild is not only helpful for the youths in the programs, but for the interns sharing their knowledge of their specific track.