University assists with Delaware GIS Day field trip
The Earth Balloon was a popular feature at Delaware GIS Day.
A student gets instructions at the flight simulator.
Fifth graders learn the fine points of aerial interpretation.
A student learns about the compass.
Neal Nichols teaches students during Delaware GIS Day.


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12:56 p.m., Nov. 24, 2009----Volunteers from the University of Delaware and the UD-based Delaware Geological Survey assisted with the Delaware GIS (Geographic Information Systems) Day field trip for fifth graders held Nov. 18.

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Approximately 260 students from schools throughout the state participated in the event, visiting the Dover Air Mobility Command Museum.

A highlight of the GIS Day field trip was the Geography Game Show presented by visiting artist and geography extraordinaire, Neal Nichols, Jr., who drew a map of the United States by memory, annotated it with historical and cultural facts and fun tidbits, and quizzed students on history and geography along the way. Children were amazed at themselves on what they could remember based on Nichols' teaching technique.

Other popular activities related to geography and GIS included:

  • Earth Balloon;
  • Flight simulator;
  • Hands-on GIS demonstrations;
  • Global positioning system (GPS) and compass work; and
  • Aerial imagery exploration and grid mapping from the Delaware Geographic Alliance (DGA).

Also, students learned how geography is used in jobs through presentations by the Sussex County Paramedics and the Kent County Mobile Command Unit.

GIS Day was held in conjunction with Geography Awareness Week.

Providing support for GIS Day were volunteers from county governments, state agencies, the University of Delaware, the Delaware Geological Survey, the private sector and the U.S. Air Force, among others.

The event was planned by the Delaware GIS Day Committee, which is a subcommittee of the Delaware Geographic Data Committee (DGDC). The Delaware GIS Day Committee has members from the University of Delaware and state and county government agencies. The UD representatives were Miriam Pomilio of the Delaware Geological Survey and Nicole Minni from the Institute for Public Administration-Water Resources Agency.

“The group that organizes this event always amazes me,” said State GIS Coordinator Mike Mahaffie, of the Office of State Planning Coordination. “They make it easy for those of us who do GIS day to day in state and local government to spend a day teaching GIS and geography to bright young kids. I think sometimes we may get more out of the GIS Day events than the students, but I know everyone learns.”

Photos by Mike Mahaffie, Delaware Office of State Planning Coordination