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New Zealand-first GIS school pilot programme


New Zealand-first GIS school pilot programme

Intermediate students are learning about Geographic Information Systems (GIS), while helping develop a travel plan for their school, under a programme being pioneered by North Shore City Council and Auckland Regional Council.

The New Zealand-first pilot programme is underway at Murrays Bay and Northcross Intermediate Schools in North Shore City. If successful, it is hoped the programme will be extended to schools across Auckland as part of the NCEA curriculum.

"This innovative programme is a fantastic way of teaching students and their parents about transport issues that are relevant to them," North Shore City's works and environment committee chairperson Joel Cayford says.

"At the same time students are learning about geography, society, the environment, and how to use aerial maps and spatial data on the computer."

A curriculum unit has been developed around new GIS software provided by Auckland Regional Council. A GIS viewer provides access to interactive map-based information about North Shore City.

Students can prepare and print aerial maps of their school area, locate their own houses, view property and road boundaries, find out distances from their homes to school, map routes to school and find bus stops, cycleways and footpaths.

The two schools are the first in New Zealand to have access to ARCGIS.

"We are very excited about the possibility this opens up for students to plot and study different ways of travelling to and from their schools," ARC's passenger transport committee chair, Catherine Harland, says.

"Students can use this information to learn about broader transport and sustainability issues, and come up with ways to improve transport and road safety in their neighbourhoods."

Murrays Bay Intermediate School principal Colin Dale has commended North Shore City Council and the ARC, describing the programme as an "outstanding initiative".

"(It) has meaning, relevance, and uses progressive, modern educational thinking in its presentation. I think this programme has been written in a way that future programmes in our curriculum will be written.

"It uses interactive technology, real contexts for learning and issues that relate to the participants."

The schools have been supplied with computer software, curriculum units, classroom lessons and workbooks for teachers and students. The software runs on a central server connected to computers in e-learning classrooms.

Work done by students in class contributes to the development of the school's travel plan, aimed at encouraging walking and cycling, improving safety and reducing traffic at the school gate, under North Shore City's TravelWise to School programme.

At Murrays Bay Intermediate, children in Years 7 and 8 are studying the unit as part of their computer and social studies classes.

Year 8 teacher Nyree Hanna said her students were enjoying using the GIS to find their homes and discuss how they travelled to school and the positive or negative effects of different types of transport.

"They just love the GIS, they think it's 'the meanest', and they have picked it up really well."

She said the students were now more aware they had the power to do something about pollution and traffic congestion. "It's getting these guys to look at what is the actual impact (of driving to school) so they can start to make some choices based on knowledge."

Student Tze Wei Sneah said using the GIS was very interesting. "It shows a lot of information I didn't know about, like where my friends live."

Tze Wei said he usually walks to school, but "a lot of the kids are talking about trying to bike now".

(ends)

For more information please contact:

* North Shore City's traffic services manager Tom Morton, on 486 8644,

* Auckland Regional Council's passenger transport committee chair, Catherine Harland, on 636 8464 or 021 656 721,

* Auckland Regional Council's GIS manager Tony Batistich on 366 2000, ext. 8307,

* Auckland Regional Council's sustainable transport manager Anna Percy on 366 2000, ext.8033, or;

* Murrays Bay Intermediate School principal Colin Dale on 478 6778.

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