The Meddling Kids and OSM at Red Bank High School

Nov 30, 2010 | Education, Open Source GIS, Open Street Map, Training

The great Open Street Map experiment at Red Bank High School continues.

Actually it “continued” about a month ago. I’m just getting around to talking about it. For those of you who haven’t been keeping up, I have a class full of kids mapping in Open Street Map. It started in the spring with seven kids. This fall it ramped up to somewhere around 30. Yes – for two weeks I probably have the premier OSM mapping organization in the world. It was discussed at the first US State of the Map conference in Atlanta and we’ve done the talk in a few other places. If you wish to take a look at the Power Point slide please feel free. We do the work in Mapzen.  My entire pitch to the kids starting off – How well do you know your neighborhood? How many turns to get here….how many houses on your street….what about fire hydrants? Put what you know on a map.

This year was a bit troublesome for myself and for the teacher. Thirty kids are a lot to deal with. I had it easy. I made an appearance and disappeared. She was stuck jumping from computer to computer answering questions and putting out fires. What made this interesting or a bit different for me….well – let me list it out:

  • The kids that claim to have OCD hate and love doing OSM. All you have to do is say the roads need to be aligned with the aerial photography and they are off and running.
  • By off and running – we purposefully don’t explain how the software works. No body cares. Most of the kids are computer literate enough and they won’t make the same mistake generating data and moving existing data.
  • I put two of the thirty on JOSM. They were both smart. They were both moving faster than the others. One male. One female.
  • One kid complained about the imagery. He started a mini revolution among the class. They wanted more accurate and more timely imagery. Please think about that one. Google earth/GPS/Imagery has made enough of an impact to where kids know when imagery is out of date – there are enough land marks that they are familiar with that are missing that this raises questions. It is no longer an issue of explaining how imagery is taken from above the earth. It’s now a commodity to them. It’s familiar.

Anyway – good things happened and bad things happened. A few kids screwed up some buildings – some kids put in tags that weren’t readily apparent (as in they read the WIKI).  Nobody vandalized the map. Out of the thirty no one did something malicious on purpose.

So what good does this do:

  • We (myself and the teacher) with Hamilton County Science teachers in less than a month to make a pitch that they all need to do this. Teach your kids to be spatially aware.
  • I’ve gotten enough traction that I asked ESRI for a GIS Lab for the school. They have one as soon as I install the software. Which means we will be on the edge of teaching a mini GIS course for the students. Thank you ESRI.
  • We will be putting Red Bank High School into a GIS using existing data. This will get pushed back into OSM by yours truly.
  • I need to make a plot of all the data that the kids have put into OSM….to enter it into a Poster competition. I am not looking forward to that at all.

I leave you with a screenshot of what they have done. Yes – there is a lot of green….and bunches of buildings….and power lines….and the nuclear power plant (I left that off the screenshot). Good things are happening in Chattanooga with OSM.

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