Kylie Miller and Rikki Vaughn are fourth graders, but they can drive ArcMap like pros.
The two students from Sonora Elementary in Arkansas recently learned how to make GIS maps. They used their newfound skills to pitch a business idea to Walmart, track a weather balloon, and establish a mobile library for their fellow students.
Kylie and Rikki were recognized on stage at the Esri UC plenary session, where they spoke about their GIS work and led a demo of their projects.
Here’s what they had to say about their experience with GIS.
Q: What did you think when you were first introduced to GIS?
Kylie: At first I was like, “okay… I need to work up to it.” I didn’t even know how to read a map so I wasn’t ready to make one. I went to training and learned the basic skills of ArcMap—to add a basemap and transfer data to the map. I also learned how to use Control Z.
Q: Tell us about your mobile library project.
Rikki: We wanted to help students from our school be able read library books during the summer. We started with a basemap of our city. Then, we thought, “what other data should we add to this map to make it better?” We took Excel files with the address of every student in our school and added that data. We made a spreadsheet with every student’s reading level and then added that to the map too. Other kids from our school took an iPad and entered every book, scanned all the barcodes. We used GIS to make a route with ten stops as close to as many students as possible.
Q: How did you feel once you learned to use GIS?
Rikki: You can do so many different things with GIS. We used it to help the community.
Kylie: Mapping changed how I see things. I realized that GIS isn’t just some mapping software that’s really hard. It’s a chance for me to do what I want to do. I like to solve problems with it.