Integrating GIS into K12 Education in Tennessee – Where Are We Now?

The core of educational reform is viewed as strengthening academic achievement. Subjects that are not directly tied to this task are often overlooked, underfunded or dismissed entirely. The benefit of integrating GIS into K-12 classrooms has been researched for a number of years, with most studies having positive results. However, to move GIS into a position of recognition as a viable and worthy educational tool there needs to be indication of academic achievement and interdisciplinary value. Research Assistant Professor Janey Camp presented her speech “Integrating GIS into K12 Education in Tennessee – Where Are We Now?” on Nov.19 2014, the 13th Annual Middle Regional TNGIC Forum On Geographic Information Systems, sponsored by TNGIC & Rutherford County.

Tennessee’s STEM investment showing promise

The 10 K-12 platform schools and six regional innovation hubs that make up the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network are demonstrating progress and the potential for sustainability, according to a Vanderbilt research analysis of the TSIN.

Established in 2011, the TSIN is a public-private collaboration between the Tennessee Department of Education and Battelle Memorial Institute designed to promote and expand the teaching and learning of the STEM fields—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education—in K-12 public schools across Tennessee. The network’s formation was spurred by state education reform efforts and the Race to the Top initiative, both of which promote STEM experiences for students.

Researchers at the Tennessee Consortium on Research, Evaluation and Development recently evaluated key aspects of the TSIN, including sustainability, connectivity, teacher effectiveness, teaching and learning, STEM awareness and innovation. The consortium is located at the Peabody College of education and human development at Vanderbilt University.

The platform schools, with students selected by lottery, are designed to encourage local educational innovation. They are supported by hubs, formal partnerships among school districts, post-secondary institutions, STEM businesses, and community organizations, all committed to accelerating the impact of STEM programs in their region.

The researchers found that nearly all of the hubs and schools have developed strong stakeholders within the STEM industry and higher education institutions, and have viable sustainability plans to fortify them for at least a year beyond the initial funding.

“Our evaluation shows a positive impact across the state of Tennessee,” said Carla C. Johnson, affiliate researcher for the Tennessee Consortium. “Innovative practices have emerged within the TSIN hubs and schools that offer much promise for STEM reform. The state and nation will reap rewards of the STEM investment for many years to come.”

Read the full report, “Tennessee STEM Innovation Network: Final Evaluation Report,” at the Tennessee Consortium’s website.

Grant boosts UW-EC geospatial education

Geospatial education at UW-Eau Claire is undergoing a significant transformation, thanks in part to a three-year $418,869 grant from the Growth Agenda for Wisconsin Grants Program.

The grant will provide students with real-world training, skills and workforce readiness necessary for successful careers in the growing geospatial industry. The grant was awarded to an interdisciplinary Geospatial Education Initiative (GEI) developed at UW-Eau Claire by a team of faculty members from geography and anthropology, physics and astronomy, computer science, and information systems departments.

In addition to the GEI grant, UW-Eau Claire received a second Growth Agenda grant for a project to broaden the impact of undergraduate research on student success and economic development in Wisconsin. Together, UW-Eau Claire’s grants represent almost one-third of the nearly $1.4 million awarded through the Growth Agenda grant program.

The U.S. Department of Labor has listed geospatial technology and its use as one of 14 “high-growth, high-demand and economically vital sectors of the American economy” and estimates its growth rate to be almost 35 percent annually. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International predicts Wisconsin will see an $88 million economic impact from 2015-17 with $1 million in taxes and 665 new jobs.

ConnectED Commitment by ESRI to Provide Free Educational Software to Every K-12 School in America

President Obama hosted the 2014 White House Science Fair on May 27 and celebrated the student winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competition from across the country.

New partners stepping up in response to the President’s call to action. ConnectED Commitment by Esri to Provide Free Educational Software to Every K-12 School in America: In continuing its support of education, and in line with the President’s ConnectED vision of opening new opportunity through technology in the classroom, Esri will provide to every U.S. K-12 school in America free access to ArcGIS Online Organization accounts – the same GIS technology as used by government and business. These allow users to map and analyze data, create and share content, and collaborate in the cloud — via computers, tablets, or smartphones, anytime, anywhere connected. This commitment expands on Esri’s successfully program in pilot schools at all levels across the country, and will allow students to do projects of unlimited content, from global to local, building community, as well as knowledge and skills for college and career. Click here for more information.

Middle TN STEM Innovation Hub GT Workshop for Summer 2013 – Nashville, TN

Learn how to get your students engaged in project-based learning (PBL) using geospatial technology tools used by professionals that provide visual and spatial context to real-world problems.  In the workshop, you will develop basic skills using GPS units, geographic information system (GIS) software, and Google Earth as applied to classroom activities including data collection, map creation, and spatial analysis.  In addition, you will have the opportunity to create hands-on activities and curriculum for your classroom using these technologies.

Visit to see examples from past workshops in Middle Tennessee.

Brought to you by:

Vanderbilt School of Engineering
Middle Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub

Vanderbilt GIS Education Group Visits Litton Middle School

On Thursday, November 8, 2012, the Vanderbilt GIS Education group visited Litton Middle school to introduce concepts of GIS as they relate to the engineering profession.  Classes consisted of 7th and 8th grade students.  The students were taught how to collect data via GPS units.

GIS isn’t just a tool to enliven high school geography lessons


GIS Day will be celebrated on November 13, 2012 at Vanderbilt University.  Students and GIS enthusiasts alike will be presenting projects and discussing GIS all day long! Come out and see what GIS in education is all about!


gised website launch!

The GIS Education website is finally up and running.  This will be a common place for all those involved in the efforts to get GIS into the K-12 education system to communicate and share ideas.  We hope that through this website we can provide updates, data, tutorials, and more!