Return to Headlines

PBL7 Social Studies Class Learns about GIS and Story Mapping Websites

gis Cedarbrook Middle School Project Based Learning seventh-grade students learned all about the capabilities of geographic information systems and story map websites Tuesday in Mr. Isaac Stanford’s Social Studies class from guest speaker Eric Wagner, a geographer for Esri. Students are creating story maps in class and understanding uses outside the classroom like in business, industry and storytelling is critical. 

Wagner opened his presentation by comparing an aerial photo from the 1930s with a current map and asking students if they recognized the place. Both maps depicted the plot of land on which Cedarbrook would stand and does stand, and Wagner asked how the location had changed since. When comparing the 1930s map with one from 2019, Wagner pointed out that the railroad lines and Ogontz Avenue were present in the 1930s image but Route 309 was not. 

Wagner posited “What is a map?” which drew varied responses from the students, most of which centered around guiding people from one point to another. Wagner’s answer? “A highly engaging way to tell information.” Then he expounded to show the students how maps have uses aside from providing directions. The students learned time-lapse maps can illustrate sea-level rise, how diseases spread and when you can expect a package. Wagner showed students how plotting points on a map can lead businesses to make expansion decisions and why layering maps helps mine data.

In December, the class will hear from Kelsey Hensley, an engineer for the Environmental Protection Agency, about how she uses the StoryMap web platform and digital storytelling in her work for the EPA and how this project has direct real-world connections.