Category Archives: education

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How GIS Can Help in Natural Disasters, Health, and Climate Change

GIS laters diagram Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have revolutionised our ability to understand and respond to some of the most pressing challenges of our time.

A Geographic Information System (GIS) is a computer system that analyzes and displays geographically referenced information. It uses data that is attached to a unique location.

From its crucial role in the management of public health emergencies and natural disasters to their application in climate change research, GIS offer an invaluable perspective that transcends disciplinary and geographical barriers.

This news article delves into the multifaceted influence of GIS, in line with the annual celebration of GIS Day, highlighting its importance and global application.

Image source Wikiversity:

Innovation in Response to Health Emergencies and Natural Disasters

The adoption of GIS by organisations such as the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has marked a before and after in the response to public health emergencies. During the COVID-19 pandemic, GIS was fundamental in mapping the spread of the virus, analysing trends, and directing resources to the most affected areas. flood map

The ability to visualise the prevalence and transmission of the virus in real-time has been essential for formulating effective intervention and mitigation strategies.

Furthermore, the utility of GIS extends beyond health emergencies, proving to be equally vital in the management of natural disasters.

Specific tools developed for the prevention and management of these disasters allows the real-time identification of areas exposed to natural threats such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods.

The integration of scientific and official data from organisations like NOAA and USGS, along with information on populations and critical locations, such as hospitals, has optimised disaster preparedness and response in the Americas region.

image source: USGS×571.jpg

About the use of GIS in Climate Change

In the field of climate change research, GIS has provided a lens through which we can examine the complexity of our planet. Researchers from disciplines such as geography, geology, ecology, oceanography, and meteorology have adopted GIS to collect and analyse remote sensing data, revealing crucial patterns and trends in the fight against climate change. data dashboard image

Climate change is currently characterised by an increase in the Earth’s average surface temperature and the intensification of extreme weather events. It represents one of the greatest global challenges of our time.

GIS allows scientists to monitor these changes with unprecedented precision, facilitating the analysis of large data sets to identify trends, assess impacts, and predict future climate scenarios.

GIS also plays a key role in the development of mitigation and adaptation strategies to climate change.

Climate change mitigation means avoiding and reducing emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere to prevent the planet from warming to more extreme temperatures.

Whereas climate adaptation means taking action to prepare for and adjust to the current and projected impacts of climate change.

For example, GIS enables the modelling of the impact of different land use policies on carbon sequestration. It allows the assessment of the viability of renewable energy projects. It offers tools to visualise the potential impact of sea-level rise on coastal communities. Additionally, GIS tools provide a platform to effectively communicate the risks and solutions of climate change to a global audience, including policymakers, urban planners, and the general public.

Image source: Teaching the Future Project

Looking to the Future: GIS and Sustainable Development

GIS mapAs years pass, the integration of GIS into decision-making related to sustainable development becomes increasingly critical and widespread.

GIS not only allow us to visualise and understand current challenges more effectively, but it also offers a solid foundation for future planning. This includes everything from natural resource management and biodiversity conservation to urban planning and emergency response.

The ability of GIS to integrate and analyse data from multiple sources and at various scales makes it an indispensable tool for addressing sustainable development goals.

The transformative impact of GIS on our society is undeniable. As we face increasingly complex environmental and public health challenges, GIS emerges as an essential tool in our arsenal.

Image source Wikimedia Commons:


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Outdoor lessons in geography and natural sciences with ArcGIS Survey123

As part of the GIS-T Project schools and teachers are using GIS to examine their environment.

Following the first training activity held in in Ghent and organised by the European Association of Geographers (EUROGEO) and the second training event held in Bruges at the Belgian school partner Sint-Lodewijkscollege, this example from Riga Secondary School Nr.25  reports on outdoor activities and field study carried out by school pupils using  ArcGIS Survey 123.

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The study of the surrounding environment was carried out by the 9th abc class in the territory of the Ķengaraga promenade. The students had to perform various tasks: evaluate the plants growing in the research area in different ecosystems, assess whether the area is polluted and recognise invasive plant species in order to be able to conclude how alien plants have adapted to our climatic conditions.

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The obtained information was uploaded to ArcGIS Survey123 using mobile devices, where it is clearly collected submitted photos, answers, and location were marked on the mobile map app..

One of the tasks was to photograph the spring so that the group members could be seen.pupil photo

After completing the work, the teacher and class could see the completed work in the ArcGIS Survey123 environment, where the students’ responses were summarised in charts.

Class 7a performed two tasks on the field trip. Tested their physical fitness on the Ogre blue hill Giants track and studied the differences in the forest ecosystem, which had to be compared with the plants growing in the city. Photographed various plants growing in the forest for inclusion in ArcGIS Survey 123.

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Pupils GIS experience helps win competition prize

school photoStudents from the Technical College UNIREA Pascani have used GIS to undertake an analysis of local heritage,  classified at the national stage.

This work is part of the GIS-T ArcGIS work, hosted on the school ESRI platform.

The GIS analysis, made within the Erasmus+ programs, were entered in  the competition “Made for Europe”, XVI edition, by Union College.

The results won  Second Prize at the county stage of the national competition held on March 22nd, 2024 at the National College “Vasile Alecsandri” Ia sunti.

Many Congratulations to students and teachers!

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Second GIS-T training event held in Bruges

photoThe GIS-T project held its second face-to-face training event  on 1-4 February 2024 at the Belgian school partner Sint-Lodewijkscollege. The school has approximately 1350 students.

The school  is a general secondary school located in Bruges, with a long tradition in European projects, with projects already underway before the start of the European Commission programmes in 1988. The school has exchange projects and projects related to content on art, language and science with almost every European country.

Sint-Lodewijkscollege has two main pillars in its field of study: languages (classical) and science. The teachers are very motivated, many of them are also pedagogical advisors, textbooks authors and lecturers in higher education.

photoTeachers at Sint-Lodewijkscollege organised two lessons that the participating teachers from the project were able to attend.

The first lesson had as a target group for class 6B students, the equivalent of grade 12, the class was divided into two groups. The two main themes were “Exploring a new city in Bruges” for teams of four students, and the “Flemish Plan for Energy and Climate.” Wind energy turbines for groups of two students. Concerning  the energy plan, pupils worked using the ArcGIS program, using data to create maps and visualisations to propose the placement of wind turbines in places where they are missing.

photoThe  second lesson emphasised a virtual exploration of the largest port on Earth, Rotterdam. The Netherlands was chosen because it has a much larger database in ArcGIS than that available for Belgium. The students worked practically in EduGIS, completing various worksheets, both in the program and with the help of the atlas or geographical materials.

The focus of the rest of the training  of the GIS FOR GIST OF EUROPE project was for the teachers involved to  prepare case studies on using GIS to teach about climate change. The main task of the participating teachers was to write such a study in their own language, respecting the structure established during the discussions in the training.

At the end of this activity the participating teachers re viewed the work and undertook an analysis of case studies proposed by teachers, concerning their applicability in the classroom.

The third training event will take place later in 2024 at the University of Zaragossa in Spain.

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GIS-T teacher training uses GIS for climate education

university aerial photoThe first face-to-face teacher training event for GIS-T partners took place in Ghent, Belgium 27-31 August 2023.

The meeting, hosted by the European Association of Geographers (EUROGEO) was held in  the Geography department of Ghent University

Training sessions included:
Working with GISKnowledge of climate change (Karl Donert)
GIS and how is it being used in monitoring climate? (Karl Donert)
– Teaching about climate with GIS (expert teacher: Alistair Hamill)
Making videos – Video making activities for elearning (Luc wartjes)
– Making a GIS Climate Lesson – Geoinquiry /Geospatial model (expert teacher trainer Sophie Wilson)vlinder demo phptp
– Using GIS in Climate Change-A sample lesson plan (Rafael de Miguel)
– Creating a GIS Case study activity

A workshop about the VLINDER climate project was held. This illustrated how land use (e.g. buildings, forests,…) has a significant impact on the atmosphere. Given the increasing spatial resolution of atmospheric models, understanding the land-atmosphere interaction gains importance. But reliable weather observations are mostly limited to rural and open landscapes.

The VLINDER project, operational since December 2019, aims at filling this gap by building a region-wide climate monitoring network measuring in all landscapes present (rural, urban, industrial, forests, lakes,…). As a research group it is nearly impossible to initiate a network on such a scale.

By following a citizen science approach high schools are involved during the complete duration: they search for scientifically valuable measurement locations, they build and maintain the weather stations and they analyse the collected data.

Other training workshop activities included:
– Using Storymaps – BIOMAPS Erasmus Plus project
– Creating teaching resources – teacher activity with ArcGIS Dashboards
– GIS tools and teaching resources
– Climate data and simulations– using it
–  Usin ArcGIS Survey 123: collecting data in the field

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The next training event will take place and be hosted by the GIS-T school partner  Sint-Lodewijkscollege in Bruges, Belgium in January 2024

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Climate games and simulations for education

EUROGEO as a partner in the GIS-T project has identified different interesting visualisations that help present climate change issues and a created a gallery of innovative games and simulations related to climate change and teaching the future. games image

Recent research by Imperial College, London has shown that young people aged 16-24 are most likely to be particularly concerned about the impacts of climate change. This is partly because climate information is often hard to understand and follow, especially when suggested actions require changes in lifestyle.

study on climate change anxiety published in the Lancet found that children and young people demonstrated climate anxiety and widespread dissatisfaction with government responses in countries across the world. This is partly because because the climate crisis is so complex and lacks a clear solution. Education clearly has a role to play in dealing with this.

Games on the subject of climate change are well-suited to address the challenge of dealing with the complex issues involved, engaging people in the challenges involved.

Games can help communicate climate change in a manner that spurs involvement and motivates participants to take action. This is partly because many innovative design features of games can be integrated to blur the boundaries between reality and the virtual world.

The integration of game thinking and game mechanics in education has been described as gamification. One of the central advantages of gamification is the enjoyment created by making tasks more engaging, fun and interesting to complete. In turn, that increases people’s motivation to complete them.

Research carried out by Yee (2016) identified six different game elements that motivate gamers and encourage participation.

Action (e.g., objectives)
Social (e.g., competition)
Mastery (e.g., scoring)
Achievement (e.g., awards, rewards)
Immersion (e.g., role playing) and
Creativity (e.g., customisation)

It is important to realise therefore that games and game-based learning are valuable approaches to teaching the complexity of addressing climate change and part of the toolbox that educators can use to engage young people.

Visit the gallery to ty out the innovative simulations and games.

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First GIS-T Learning and Teaching Event takes place

online training photoThe first GIS FOR GIST OF EUROPE Project’s Learning/teaching/training activities under the Erasmus+ programme took place online between 20-24 February 2023.u

The training was carried out online,  organised by members of the European Association of Geographers  (EUROGEO) and hosted by  the coordinating partner , Technical College UNIREA Pascani.

Teachers from each of the school partners were invited to participate in the training  about Learning Management Systems.

In terms of the learning management system a hosted Moodle platform was used to develop the training – called “GIS for the Future”, the following LMS aspects were covered
– Introducing the Learning Management System
– Understanding the functionality (and limitations) of the LMS – what can we do?
– Demonstrating the the LMSLMS course screengrab
– registration and access
– Content, tools and activities
– Assessment and monitoring

The GIS and climate topics covered included:
– Partners’ presentations of focus group results – teacher needs, concerns
– Climate curriculum check: what are the similarities and differences?
– The importance of local data and collaboration with ESRI
– Identifying GIS needs of teachersonline training photo
– GIS and the tools it offers
– Some GIS resources
– Approaches to teaching climate change – what does the academic literature suggest?
– How could GIS be used?
– Teaching practices, needs, approaches etc.
– Introducing GIS and Climate Change

The second learning and teaching event of the GIS-T project will take place in Belgium in August 2023 hosted by EUROGEO. Find out more