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University of Illinois Extension

Mapping Brilliant Minds for the Future

February 24, 2014

Each October there is a different National Youth Science Experiment that is revealed by University of Illinois Extension for the 4-H year that runs from September through August. This year's experiment is Maps and Apps. The experiment explores how geography and geographical information systems (GIS) help people make smart decisions that improve our lives, respect our natural resources, and make a positive impact in our world.

A few weeks ago, a few colleagues and I collaborated to have Matt Fletcher, an engineer from a local Peoria firm, come to Farmington Middle School and teach an afterschool program using the Maps and Apps Experiment. Five youth attended the afterschool program. It lasted approximately two hours and they were not ready to leave when the time was up! Mr. Fletcher talked about GIS and how engineers use it to create real world objects, such as buildings, parks, cities, and roadways. The youth looked at the different kinds of features, points, lines, and polygons.

The youth worked together in small teams to create a park. They created different layers, and then put them on top of each other to see if it would be a successful park. They found out they had to work together every step of the way to make sure they were not building a parking lot over a pond. By putting the layers on top of one another, they could see the problems more easily and understand how engineers go through these same steps.

Everyone in attendance at the after school program learned the beginning basics of GIS. It was a great learning experience. One youth that attended asked, "When can we do this again?" I am so thankful that we have great volunteers who are youth focused and have a passion of sharing their knowledge. If you know anyone who is interested in GIS, or teaching youth about GIS, please contact me or one of the Fulton-Mason-Peoria-Tazewell 4-H Extension Program Coordinators.

For more information on the 4-H Youth Development program in the Fulton- Mason-Peoria-Tazewell Unit, please feel free to contact Ginger Schnecker, Extension Educator, 4-H Youth Development, at gschneck@illinois.edu or 309-347-6614.

If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in any event listed in this news release, contact your local Extension office.

Source: Ginger Schnecker, Extension Educator, 4-H Youth Development, gschneck@illinois.edu

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