June 28, 2010

For the past two years, students from schools across Kentucky have worked with the University of Kentucky Tracy Farmer Institute for Sustainability and the Environment to use geographic information system software to find solutions to issues in their communities. On July 11, students and teachers from 11 of the participating schools, along with representatives from the institute, will present their projects at the GIS software developer ESRI's Education User Conference in San Diego.

The group will be just one of several international presenters at the conference.

The students' GIS projects are part of a three-year grant the UK College of Agriculture received from the National Science Foundation's Innovative Technology Experience for Students and Teachers. With the funding, the students use geospatial technologies to do projects on topics such as water quality, land use and native herbs. Each project is specific to the schools' community.

Schools with students and teachers attending the conference include Belfry and Grant County high schools, Deming, Grant County, Scott County, Georgetown, Woodford County, Lebanon and St. Charles middle schools. Cassidy and Southern elementary schools will send teachers to the conference.

"We're taking this as an opportunity to show people that they can do more with this software than they may have thought," said Audrey Long, grant coordinator with the UK Tracy Farmer Institute.

The group leaves for San Diego July 10 and returns to Kentucky July 12. In addition to presenting, the teachers and students will have an opportunity to attend other sessions at the conference.

"The trip should be a chance for students and teachers to get ideas that they can bring back to use and hopefully share with other teachers who haven't been in the program before," Long said.

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