Teachers flock to town to learn GIS program

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— Educators from numerous states will wade through local rivers to learn how to operate and teach the Geographical Information Systems computer program.

The Yampa Valley Community Mapping Program is hosting the GIS Institute for Educators all next week at Steamboat Springs High School.

The weeklong course will educate 32 teachers from nine different states, including six local teachers from all the school districts in Routt and Moffat counties, on the GIS computer program, said Connie Knapp, who is the program manager for the Yampa Valley Community Mapping Program, which is funded by the Orton Family Institute.

GIS projects combine art-view software and mapping software to represent various forms of information on the computer screen. The Community Mapping Project works with local schools to implement education programs using GIS into the curriculum.

Soroco High School's car accident mapping project on Colorado 131 and Steamboat Springs Middle School's vacant land and other land ownership project are examples of the work the Community Mapping Project has supported.

Now Knapp said she wants to make Routt County the center for training people to incorporate GIS projects into schools.

The GIS Institute at Steamboat Springs High School is a step toward doing that, she said.

"We have (three) instructors who are coming in to work with our own Dave Smith to teach," Knapp said.

The group will work all week on learning the GIS program and will take water samples on the Elk River, Yampa River and Mad Creek for one of the projects.

The samples will identify minerals in the water at the different sites. That information will be entered into the computer program. A map will then be produced, showing each water sampling area, Knapp said.

Knapp said members of the Yampa Valley Community Mapping Program went to the same weeklong class in Nevada last year. It was liked so much, Knapp wanted to bring it to Steamboat Springs.

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