The Maryland Geographic Alliance has been at its new home at Towson for about six months. Since that time, we have launched this website and a companion Facebook page (Maryland Geographic Alliance) and put together a steering committee. We are planning professional development, workshops, summer institutes, and student programs centered on four major foci: AP Human Geography, middle school World Cultures, geospatial thinking and technology, and environmental literacy.
So far, we have held a number of events across Maryland geared toward these four foci. At the Baltimore Kid’s Mapping Project Workshop, twelve public school teachers came to Towson to develop their GIS skills through ArcGIS Online. These teachers constructed neighborhood story maps to commemorate the first anniversary of the death of Freddie Gray. We also helped support the week-long BioBlitz in Howard County that turned over three hundred HCPS students into citizen scientists. Last weekend, we helped support the National Aquarium’s BioBlitz out at Masonville Cove.
Let me tell you about the Masonville Cove BioBlitz. It was fantastic! Students, educators, and other community members were able to learn about the biodiversity of the area thanks to the coordination of the National Aquarium and Masonville Cove. There were six well-planned stations that covered mammals, reptiles and amphibians, plants, insects, birds, and aquatic species. Seasoned experts and young newcomers worked together through thoughtful and engaging activities. To top it off, it was a gorgeous day just to be outside and enjoy nature.
So what was the issue?
The issue was that there weren’t enough people taking advantage of the beautiful weather and fascinating activities to increase their environmental literacy. Similar issues arose at the Baltimore Kid’s Mapping Project; though it was a thoughtful event, it could have greatly benefitted from more teachers. How do we get the word out to get more people to participate?
That is where you come in! Choose to get involved by sending your ideas or telling us what kind of support you need. Attend an event; suggest an event. Consider applying for Teachers Teaching Teachers GIS (a workshop every summer held by ESRI) or the American Geographical Society Teaching Fellowship. (For more information about those, check out our Facebook page). Spread the word to your friends and colleagues. Are there non-profit organizations or professional groups who are natural fits? Could we work with Scouting groups or 4-H? What about private schools? And how can we reach these groups?
As you can see, I have a lot of questions – but I know that you have the answers!