Home > AGI Scotland, Events > AGI, RSGS introduce the next generation to GI

AGI, RSGS introduce the next generation to GI

AGIAs part of an ongoing initiative to forge links between education and industry, last month’s AGI ‘Big 5’ event in Glasgow was attended by 20 secondary school pupils from Douglas Academy in Milngavie.

The school group was invited to the event as part of a collaboration between AGI Scotland and the Royal Scottish Geographical Society to develop links between education and industry.

AGI volunteers Abigail Page and Val Marlowe, along with RSGS Education Convenor Erica Caldwell and AGI/RSGS Vice Chair Bruce Gittings, organised the day’s programme with the generous cooperation of several industry and academic professionals. We aimed to give the Higher and Advanced Higher geography pupils an overview of the breadth of applications for geographic information, the prospects for employment in this flourishing sector, and the exciting developments within GI as a vital component of initiatives such as the Future Cities protocol.

iainstuartMeeting figures from academia and industry provided a valuable opportunity for young people to learn more about the scope in geographic information as a career as well as a unique opportunity to speak with RSGS President and TV personality Iain Stewart.

Erica Caldwell said “This was a particularly innovative event – it opened the eyes of young
geographers to new aspects and applications of Geography which could link to an exciting range of possible careers.”

While conference delegates attended the morning presentations, the Higher and Advanced Higher Geography pupils made their way to the University of Glasgow. They were welcomed to the University Library’s map collection by John Moore, College Librarian and an expert on early Scottish maps and mapmaking.

Along with teachers David Rowlands and Laura Johnston, the school group were given a presentation on historical mapping – with a focus on the Glasgow area relevant to their school projects – through to relatively modern examples of cartography and present day online resources.

AGI and RSGS members welcomed the group to the magnificent surroundings of Glasgow City Chambers, where Bruce Gittings introduced the current GI industry and stressed its importance as a fast growing employment sector for graduate geographers. The pupils were encouraged to share their ideas for further study and career aspirations, and asked to consider how GI could play a part in these as the afternoon progressed.

A series of short talks were given by commercial organisations and sponsors (ESRI UK, Ordnance Survey, Landmark UK, and thinkWhere) describing and demonstrating how maps and data are currently used by the GI industry in a wide range of applications from habitat management to organising disaster relief operations. We’re grateful to all of the exhibitors and sponsors who were happy to answer many questions from the pupils. Particular thanks are due to Ian Holt from Ordnance Survey who prepared a comprehensive 20 minute talk complete with slides and videos on very short notice, looking at the public perception of mapping, and the use of spatial data products from OS Open Data to open source and crowd sourced applications such as the OSM mapping of Haiti and Map Kibera project.

The highlight of the day for the pupils had to be a personal presentation by Professor Iain Stewart, who gave a wide-ranging and interactive talk – finding out the pupils’ interests, encouraging them in their study of geography, making the links with future career prospects, and conveying his fascination with the subject and passion for conveying that knowledge to non-expert audiences.

Questions and answers covered topics from the geological development of the local area, the provenance of the marble surrounding us in the City Chambers, the best place on earth to film, and just how you jump into the Victoria Falls!

Following the talk Professor Stewart chatted informally with pupils and teachers, and was happy to feature in a number of selfies taken by the pupils. Shortly afterwards the students joined the 170 conference delegates to hear Professor Stewart’s closing presentation where he emphasised the importance of understanding the past lives of cities in the development of future cities.

Speaking afterwards, Iain said “This is exactly what RSGS should be doing – mapping out the future for young geographers”

We were delighted at the success of the visit, and the unanimously positive feedback from all involved.

Principal Teacher of Geography David Rowlands said “…the pupils (and staff!) had a great time – both at the university and at the conference – and some pupils have even said that they’d like a job working with GIS now!”

We’d like to thank everyone who generously contributed their time and expertise to make the day inspiring and memorable for the pupils. Please feel free to contact us with any enquiries and ideas for future events.



Categories: AGI Scotland, Events
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