EMU Researcher to Bring GIS Technology into Michigan Classrooms

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A researcher at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti will use a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to help Michigan teachers integrate geographic information systems and technology content into their curriculum.

Led by Yichun Xie, director of Eastern Michigan’s Institute for Geospatial Research and Education, the program — available to 5,000 students in grades 8-12 through Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Saginaw, and the Upper Peninsula — will be split into three stages.

Xie says the first level will introduce students to geographic information systems and technology, so that they build a basic understanding in the subject. The second will prepare students to work with lesson models that enhance science, geography, and engineering practices. The third stage will provide participants with professional training and opportunities to gain work experience with local organizations.

A geographic information system — a computer system that allows users to create interactive searches, analyze spatial information, edit data in maps, and present results in multi-media forms — has valuable applications for fields such as engineering, planning, management, ransport/logistics, telecommunications, science, and business, EMU officials say.

The project has an important research component, led by co-director David Anderson, a professor of leadership and counseling in EMU’s College of Education, to study the motivations and problems of integrating geographic information systems and technology into science and social studies classrooms.

The university will partner with Michigan Communities Association of Mapping Professionals to provide technical mentoring and workplace opportunities for the students participating in the second and third stages.

Xie has been actively involved with research of GIS system development, urban modeling and spatial decision support systems. He has served as principal investigator in numerous cooperative projects sponsored by the U.S. National Science Foundation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Department of Commerce, and various state and local agencies.

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