Communicating GIS in Informal Settings

Most everyone I know in the geospatial field feels passionate about their work, and many seek ways to spread awareness about GIS beyond the geospatial community.  So it was with enthusiasm that I agreed to participate recently with the organizers of the History Colorado museum’s “COmingle” event.  With the “CO” referring to Colorado, and the “mingle” referring to its after-hours “fun evening with friends or a date” focus, COmingle is an “offbeat mix of games, trivia, demonstrations, exhibit adventures, performances, and hands-on activities”, with food and “a whole lot of Colorado spirit.” The activity I decided to host there was “Geography Quiz Night”, because I had the perfect venue on which to do it–a giant basketball court-sized terrazzo map of the state of Colorado.  I dubbed it “G Harmony,” or “Geography harmony.” I wanted the quiz to be active, so for each of the 10 questions in each quiz, I asked the participants to stand on the location of the state to indicate what they thought was the correct answer.  I handed out prizes to the individuals or teams with the most correct, least correct, or more creative answers so everyone could win a prize.  The prizes were a combination of books, gift cards, and posters from me (Esri) and the History Colorado museum.

Joseph Kerski conducting Colorado quiz on map of the state.

Joseph Kerski, center, walking “toward Colorado Springs”, conducting Colorado quiz on map of the state.

I conducted two quizzes during the evening, and my questions included, “Which county has the largest agricultural output?”, “Where is the lowest point in the state?”, “Where was the coldest temperature ever recorded in the state?”, “What tiny town saw its high school boys basketball team beat all odds to become state champions in 1929 and 1930?”, “Where is the 3rd largest city in Colorado?, and “Where is State Highway 1?” As I was giving the questions, I talked about mapping and GIS.  Challenge yourself with the complete list of my questions here. I had announced this event to the Colorado GIS community and education community, and so it proved to be a nice relaxed setting to meet new colleagues, in addition to others from outside geography and GIS, including innovative programmers from Oh Heck Yeah! who created a kinesthetic computer game people played there. What might you do to reach out and bring your community together to spread geography and GIS in innovative and fun ways?

Joseph Kerski

About Joseph Kerski

Joseph Kerski is a geographer who believes that spatial analysis through digital mapping can transform education and society through better decision-making using the geographic perspective. He serves on the Esri education team and is active in GIS communication and outreach, creates GIS-based curriculum, conducts research in the effectiveness of GIS in education, teaches online and face-to-face courses on spatial thinking and analysis, and fosters partnerships to support GIS in formal and informal education at all levels, internationally. He is the co-author of Spatial Mathematics, The Essentials of the Environment, The GIS Guide to Public Domain Data, and other books. Follow him on Twitter @josephkerski
This entry was posted in Education, export and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply