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Borton students use GIS software to map their world

As a parent and someone familiar with geographical information systems (GIS), Chuck Powell is a natural fit as Borton's "geomentor."

"We're trying to introduce mapping and spatial thinking to the kids here," Powell said.

Borton received a grant from a company named Esri, which funded the tablets and cloud-computing software required for students to gain exposure to GIS and mapping activities. As a showcase of this work, Chuck and the students held Borton's first annual Mapping & Spatial Gallery last week, where students from all grades came to see what their classmates have been working on.

"There's a letter and it shows you (on the map) what that letter stands for," explained first graders Nicholas and Andrew as they pointed to their tablet.

Stella, a fourth grader, went into detail about how the letter glossary appeared on the tablets. She showed the original maps that the students drew to pinpoint certain landmarks, like Bella, Borton's pet lizard. Once the locations were determined, they were loaded into the software.

The activities were embraced by students of all ages. The gallery was station after station of engaged students learning about mapping. The ultimate goal is to introduce mapping to the students now so that they stay interested as they progress through school.

"The kids get so excited working with the tools and software we use in the real world outside these school walls," Powell said. "They can use these skills throughout middle school and high school, and hopefully beyond."

There are still spots open at Borton Magnet Elementary School. For more information about enrolling in Open Enrollment and Magnet Programs, see our enrollment webpage.