Introduction to GIS High School Workshop & White Paper

Consistently evolving technology and projected growth in the supply chain and transportation workforce prompts the need for new skills in the workforce. At the heart of these industries, understanding the interconnectedness of data in a geospatial context will be key to succeeding at the entry-level position and developing a technologically-informed career. K-12 students have the advantage of time in an educational environment, where exposure to the current state of geospatial tools can prepare them for how technology is progressing and the type of pathways that having these skills can lead to.

Despite the widespread applicability of these skills, courses in geographical information science (GIS) are underrepresented at the high school level. It is also uncommon to come across many students at this level who are passionate about and actively pursuing careers in transportation planning. However, GIS tools are dynamic and visually stimulating tool that catches the attention of young students, and they provide a hands-on method for understanding real-world issues. Moreover, the demonstrated ability of using GIS to quantify issues facing environmental sustainability is well-documented, and an area of learning which should be cultivated in the younger generation.

Given the wealth of readily available tutorials in both desktop and online formats, GIS is not an area of expertise which requires a lot of initial background in IT or scientific understanding. Furthermore, this does not need to be a subsection of a computer science curriculum but rather an overarching tool akin to Microsoft Office, where its applicability covers multiple disciplines of study. The problem lies in a lack of awareness of the technology, its applications in transportation, and potential career pathways that incorporate the skill. This program aims to instill students with the foundational abilities to conduct geospatial analysis/visualization and prepare them for future careers in sustainable transportation.

The CSULB Center for International Trade and Transportation (CITT) will write a white paper on introducing GIS technology to high school students. CITT will build on their December 2018 "GIS Day" workshop piloted at the Port of Long Beach's Academy of Global Logistics at Cabrillo High School in West Long Beach, as well as GIS activities developed for community college and professional-level courses. The white paper will focus on the background and development of an "Introduction to GIS" workshop for high school students that will be developed by CITT as an NCST outreach project. CITT's past successes developing and implementing career pathways will inform the research. The paper will identify strategies for teaching GIS in the context of sustainable transportation with the goal of students entering a career in the industry.

CITT will then develop the introductory GIS workshop for high school students with a focus on sustainable transportation. CITT will build on their "GIS Day" workshop (above) to develop a period of instruction and demonstration and a Story Map activity. The activity will consist of students creating a Story Map on the mobility-related topic of their choosing, using freely available geospatial data focused on sustainable transportation. The workshop will be piloted at 1-2 high schools near each of the NCST partner universities: University of Vermont, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of California, Davis, University of California, Riverside, University of Southern California, and California State University, Long Beach. A webinar competition will be convened after the workshops take place to showcase the best student creations and share project results across regions. This will also offer an opportunity for students to develop presentation skills.

The workshop serves as the initial K-12 step of engaging the next generation into sustainable transportation career pathways.


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