College

Day of Geography – Week of Events!

I can’t begin to describe how happy I am that more people continue to contribute to the Day of Geography site. It’s a labour of love and a bit of a challenge to put this all together but the amount of information that students around the world can access continues to grow.

My day this year begins at my “day job” as a Planning and GIS Data Administrator at the Niagara Region in the Long Range Planning Department of the Planning and Development Services Division. While there I’m responsible for the maintenance and updates of the iDARTS program. That is, the interactive development application retrieval and tracking system. Basically it’s a GIS that attaches planning applications to the parcel(s) of land they apply to. These can include Official Plan amendments, Zoning Bylaw applications, Subdivision/Condominium applications among others.

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This is not all I do however, I’m also the Founder and Executive Director of Geospatial Niagara and the caretaker as it were of this here “Day of Geography” initiative along with some other volunteers of Geospatial Niagara – namely Ashley and Matt.

This year, my day with Geospatial Niagara consisted of taking part in a panel discussion called Community Connects for the Brock University Co-op program. This particular panel is about careers in geography, developing interview skills, networking skills and in general promoting the geospatial technologies and information sector, especially as it relates to the growing sector in Niagara. After the presentation, I need to return to work and pick up where I left off.

In the evening, I need to put the finishing touches on my presentation to a class of Grade 10 students at Sir Winston Secondary School in St. Catharines. The organization Business Education Council of Niagara has a program that receives requests from teachers throughout Niagara for people and organizations to participate in discussions with high school students about career/educational opportunities. No surprise, I’m doing a talk about careers in Geography. It’ll be a year to the day, since the last time I was there (incidentally on Day of Geography 2014). I’m sure there will be students that remember last years presentation!

Wednesday is GIS Day! Time to head over to Brock University to watch the ESRI scholarship presentations!

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On Wednesday evening, work continues to finalize discussion ideas for the Niagara Minecraft Project Educator Roundtable discussion on November 20 and the Niagara Minecraft student hackathon on November 21. The Niagara Minecraft Project began as a thesis project in the Niagara College GIS and Geospatial Management Program in the 2014-15 school year. The goal was to convert Niagara Region geospatial data (roads, hydrology and topography) into a 1:1 scale Minecraft map similar to those completed in England and Denmark. It was one of three projects sponsored by Geospatial Niagara. Recently due to the exposure that this project has garnered, Geospatial Niagara became part of ihub – Niagara’s Educational Research and Innovation hub as a portfolio company. This greatly increases our visibility and provides greater access to the schools that make up the District School Board of Niagara. The two events being held as part of the Niagara Minecraft Project will help us to engage those teachers that want to utilize Minecraft in their classrooms to provide their curriculum, and on the following day, allow kids to have fun and experiment with the full Niagara region Minecraft Map.

My work with Geospatial Niagara is a passion that I cannot put into words. I have a vision for what it can be and over the last two years, we’ve slowly built towards that vision bringing more volunteers into the fold. In 2014, we spoke with over 650 students ranging from Grades 2 all the way to Masters students. This year we’re on target to present to over 1000 people.

We have six student projects on the go this year – three of them are at Niagara College – The Niagara Minecraft 2.0 project, the Lincoln & Welland Regiment Interactive Geospatial Visualization project and the Niagara Hops Farm Site Suitability project and three of them are through the Brock University Honours Internship program. These include the Niagara Aspiring Geoparks Economic Study, an Active Transportation Mapping study and a Niagara Geographic Education study.

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Our treeOcode Niagara project really took off this year receiving a grant back in May from Evergreen that helped us out immensely. We’ve recently also started working with a community group to provide them geospatial services and consulting, this brings us out further into the community which is another mission of ours, promoting community participation through geography.

Studying geography opens your eyes to just how big yet how interdependent everything in our world is. Geography as a discipline has never been more important than it is right now. Most challenges we face in 2015-16 and far into the future, revolve around Geography. Working for or creating your own business no matter if it’s for profit or not for profit is incredibly rewarding – doing it as a geographer seems to make it even more fulfilling.

HAPPY DAY OF GEOGRAPHY EVERYONE!! Hope you’ve had an excellent GIS Day as well. Thank you to all who participated this year.

Scott Kelly’s Year In Space Updates!

Hi folks,

I’d like to share that I’ve spent some time today updating some pins on the map

Feel free to share attached image (or resize, if you wish)

Thanks for doing Day Of Geography!

Cheers, Dave

 

Posted on behalf of Dave McLean

What Does My Day of Geography Look Like? Map Library Associate/Geospatial Data Coordinator

I work in a fishbowl called the Map, Data & GIS Library. I’m always on the frontline helping students with a variety of requests from navigating Mackenzie Chown Complex to extracting remote sensing data or using HTML to make a web mapping application! I LOVE to help students and thrive on geospatial data requests or GIS problem-solving issues. When I’m not helping students, I’m working on digitization projects that make historical map documents GIS-ready.

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For example: historical topo maps; historical air photos; and historical maps. I also try to keep the MDGL on the cutting edge of technology often my ideas are ahead of their time. None-the-less, exploring geospatial data availability, quality and delivery are my priority so that the Brock University community is served the best data to meet their teaching and research needs. I love my job!

Posted on behalf of Sharon Janzen – Brock University Map, Data & GIS Library.

 

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Mapping it Out: A Cartographer’s Journey

Although geographer is not something most kids dream about becoming, it is hard to find a geographer who is not completely enamored with their profession. My suspicion for the reason behind the love of career that most geo-spatial scientists have is that most of us have discovered the field of geography in an endeavor to comprehend an aspect of the world that we find particularly imperative or fascinating. Furthermore, in our pursuits to solve or better understand the mysteries that intrigue us, most of us have found the approach of geography to be, not just important, but necessary. Since it is more likely that a study’s data is spatial than not, it makes sense that understanding most data through a geo-spatial lens would become a rewarding quest. Thus was the path that led me to become a cartographer.

Telling NPS park visitors about the bats that call the North Cascades home.

Telling NPS park visitors about the bats that call the North Cascades home.

My undergraduate degree in cultural anthropology and secondary focus on geology served as a great background for my first job out of college as a park ranger for the North Cascades National Park. Many park scientists, such as Anne BraatenRoger Christophersen, and Jon Riedel and others were using GIS to understand the natural and cultural history of the North Cascades. This prompted me to enroll in the University of Wisconsin’s GIS program, which led to a summer of

mapping for the climbing department at Mount Rainier National Park and a permanent position with a small cartography firm in Bellingham, Washington, where I mapped for companies and agencies like the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, and Green Trails. A strong desire to merge my cartographic skills with my human rights education from one of my very influential professors, Dr. Kathleen Young, prompted me to enroll in Western Washington Universitys M.S. in Geography program, where I studied and mapped the impact and application of education reform. Also having a passion for statistical analysis, I worked for the universitys Resilience Institute as a geo-statistical data visualization specialist under the guidance of Dr. Scott Miles, another influential person in my journey as a cartographer.

Taking GPS waypoints for mapping Goat Peak, in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

Taking GPS waypoints for mapping Goat Peak, in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

Upon graduating, I was hired by Esri’s Professional Services department, where I currently work as a cartographer and data visualization specialist and have helped start Esri’s Cartography Lab. This means that I get to work on a wide range of cartography and dataviz projects for customers. For example, while at the Cartography Lab I have mapped efforts ranging from ridding the ocean from plastic waste, to basketball arenas and a lot of other interesting cartography projects in between. I map for both print and the web. Currently, I am part of a team at Esri that is developing tools that will make it easier for cartographers like me to access data from the cloud using Illustrator and Photoshop. We were grateful for the opportunity to present our current prototype of this tool at the NACIS 2015 conference last month in Minneapolis.

The skills that I employ most frequently are equal parts statistical data analysis and visual design. In my time so far as a map maker, it is clear that meticulous focus on both of these sides of this balance is crucial to producing a high quality product. A rewarding part of ensuring good data design and visual design is drawing inspiration from previous successful mapping projects, which I seek daily.

I currently live in Bellingham, Washington, where I enjoy mapping my hiking and running activities.

Day Of Geography: Notes from COGS

Congratulations on the inaugural Day of Geography!

view of COGS from a phantom quadcopter in July 2013

view of COGS from a phantom quadcopter in July 2013

There are five programs taught at the Centre of Geographic Sciences within NSCC in Lawrencetown, NS serving direct-entry and post-graduate students. These are:

  • Survey Technician measuring the physical world around us to determine the shape and position of objects or features
  • Geomatics Engineering Technology delivering practical measurement skills and techniques, as well as the theory behind them
  • Geographic Sciences using geomatics tools and technology for Community & Environmental Planning, Remote Sensing, Cartography, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
  • Advanced Marine Geomatics using geomatics to effectively explore, manage, and monitor the marine and coastal environments
  • Advanced Geographic Sciences complementing a science degree with geomatics technologies

Graduates have made positive contributions around the world (here’s a voluntary map) and find meaningful careers across the industry spectrum.

The school (in various names; the present had considerable input from Roger Tomlinson) is dedicated to geographic programs and features the Walter K. Morrison Map Collection. We have been teaching programs pertaining to geography since the end of WWII.

For a colourful look at the last 25 years of COGS, check out this article.

A day in the life of a geographer who is just doing what she does…

A day in the life of a geographer who is just doing what she does…

Today’s schedule is much like any other for me these days – changing, case uncertain, medical and never replicated. My official title includes “Adjunct Faculty” for the Faculty of Environment, viagra University of Waterloo – that means I am on contract to teach a variety of courses, but I am not limited to that.
In the last few years I have taught everything from Fluvial Geomorphology (how rivers work and what role we play in that), to Tourism Management, to Introductory Human Geography, to Environmental Literature, to Conservation and Parks Management (which is the course I am currently teaching). I guess at this point in my career (I graduated with a PhD from UWaterloo just a couple of years ago), I am still plugging away at really creating my own niche in geographic education (hence the diverse course offerings!) – but it certainly takes a long while and I am committed to the journey.
In addition to teaching, I was also recently appointed as the Field Course Developer for the Faculty. I believe that students need the opportunity to go outside and into the field in order to truly engage with the material taught in the classroom. I work with various professors across the faculty to assess current course offerings and look for ways to integrate additional applied experiences; students don’t necessarily need to go to exotic locations in order to learn about the world – often the very best lessons are learned in our own backyards. My motivation for this whole shift in education stems from my own experiences as a student. In my third year of my undergrad, I was quite bored with my education. I chose courses that were interesting, did co-op work terms in great locations, and yet something was missing. I found the solution in a field course in the States, where I spent two months retracing the route of Lewis and Clark across Montana via paddle and foot – and got university credits for the work that I did while out there. I returned with a renewed interest in what I was doing, and most importantly, why it all connected to not only me but to the larger landscape as well. And so today? I am hoping to facilitate similar experiences for undergraduates in the Faculty of Environment. I am working on two proposals for new field courses for this summer – one in an urban national park and a second in an old growth forest in northern Ontario. I don’t know what the end products might be – whether students end up creating environmental interpretation literature, writing advocacy letters to decision-makers, or collaborating on GIS work – but what is important to me is that these students make their education matter. And that perhaps it provokes some significant conversations. In a not-so-distant past life I was a wilderness guide and my heart still sings when I am out there. By bringing my own students out there, I am hoping to inspire a whole new group of folks to see the world in a slightly new light.
Seeing the world differently is important for not only my own students, but those who will follow. Today I am also taking three of my geography undergraduate students into a local high school to talk with grade elevens and twelves about “this whole geography thing”. I am excited to sit on the sidelines, so to speak, and just let my own students explain why this is such an important and exciting field to be getting into. I know that realistically not every student I teach will become a geographer with a capital “G”, but I hope that whether students become planners, teachers, parents, economists, lawyers, or farmers, they continue to do good work connecting people to places and advocating for the causes they believe in. And that they never forget to pause and look at the beautiful world that we all live in.
And, lastly, I am packing. Tomorrow I head to Ottawa for the Royal Canadian Geographic Society’s Annual General Meeting and Fellows Dinner. This year I am being inducted as a Fellow for the Society. For me, this is a big deal. Not only is it a lifetime appointment, but it also adds a significant amount of obligation and yes, perhaps even some pressure to keep up with them all. I feel that I am part of the next generation of educators – a generation that must continue to share Canada with Canadians and also with the world. Through my days, I continue to find great moments of inspiration and opportunity. There is lots to be done in this realm and I am pleased to be playing a small role. Teaching geography is not an occupation, it is a way of being, an approach to life and livelihood that requires open eyes, the willingness to engage with others who may not see the world quite like me, and the constant and conscious decision to keep pushing forward, no matter what barrier may initially appear to be there.
And so I sign off, and head back into the world. I’ll see you out there – be it on the trail, in the city, or somewhere in between…
Be well,
~ Amanda Hooykaas, PhD, FRCGS
Email: alhooykaas@uwaterloo.ca
Website: amandahooykaas.com

 

Tradition of Week of Geography in Czechia

Czech Week of GeographySince 2006, dosage the Czech Geographic Society – Branch Northern Bohemia, troche has organized a Week of Geography. This traditional science popularization activity is coming into its ninth year. On this occasion we are pleased to join the international Day of Geography within Geography Awareness Week. This year we try to make a small step to organize a national Week of Geography with other geographical academic institutions across the whole country.

Until this year (2014), Department of Geography in Ústí nad Labem was the only host department of the Week of Geography on the date around 17th November, although various other science popularization activities were being organized throughout the year in Czechia. The Week of Geography in Ústí nad Labem has been primarily aimed at university students, and to a lesser extent at the wider audience interested in geography. It has been composed of presentations and workshops, discussions on actual topics, as well as film projections and small exhibitions and poster exhibitions. As examples we can list these activities:

a lecture from necrogeography

an Arabic language lesson

a workshop in 3D modelling of cities

a presentation on the discovery of the Amazon River sources by prof. Janský, a leader of the expedition

a discussion on cartographic production for schools with a publisher

a film discussing the destruction of settlements through open coal mining in Northern Bohemia

an exhibition of old atlases

students´ presentations from their journeys

A regular part of the week program is the Career Day in Geography, where former students are invited to talk about the usefulness of geography for their contemporary jobs. The Day of Geography (usually on Thursday) is aimed at further education of geography teachers from primary and secondary schools. Friday is connected with GIS Day.