GIS Day Brings Geography and GIS Technology to the Community Garsfontein High School, South Africa

Redlands, California-On November 17, 2004, geographic information system (GIS) technology and geography will take the spotlight as millions of people worldwide celebrate GIS Day 2004.

GIS professionals, students, teachers, and community members from around the world will participate in events ranging from corporate open houses, hands-on workshops, and community expos, to school-wide assemblies, GPS scavenger hunts, and GIS-inspired baking contests. GIS Day is an annual event held as a part of the National Geographic Society’s Geography Awareness Week and Geography Action! initiative. GIS users are encouraged to hold events all year despite GIS Day’s official November date. The international grassroots event promotes geographic literacy in schools, communities, and organizations and enables GIS users and vendors to open their doors and sponsor events that spread knowledge about the capabilities of GIS technology and the importance of geography throughout their communities. “Geography provides us with a framework and language for organizing our world,” says Jack Dangermond, ESRI president. “GIS technology helps people use geographic information to make a difference in the world. It is important for GIS users to share their knowledge with schools, businesses, and the community.” Garsfontein High School in South Africa took advantage of the flexibility of GIS Day when they celebrated on April 28, 2004, with the help of the South African GIS Society and GIMS, ESRI’s software distributor in South Africa. The day’s event introduced the importance of geography and GIS technology to students and teachers from the school as well as those from other schools in the area.  “The event was a big success,” says Chris Zaayman, one of the school’s teachers and an organizer for the event. “The students really enjoyed it, and the fact that they asked so many questions illustrated that it captured their imaginations. About eight teachers from other schools attended and stayed after the event to ask questions about GIS.”
 The 2006 South African national school curriculum will introduce GIS to students in grades 10 through 12. They will be taught the basic principles of GIS and learn how they can be applied to real-world situations. The school’s GIS Day event was a way for students and teachers to be introduced to geographic information technology and discover its basic capabilities.
 GIS Day is principally sponsored by the National Geographic Society, the Association of American Geographers, the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science, the United States Geological Survey, the Library of Congress, Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard, and www.gisday.com.
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About ESRI
For more than 30 years, ESRI has been the leading developer of GIS software with more than 300,000 clients worldwide. ESRI software is used in all 200 of the largest cities in the United States and in more than 60 percent of counties and municipalities nationwide. Headquartered in California, ESRI has regional offices throughout the United States, international distributors in more than 90 countries, and more than 1,600 business partners. ESRI’s goal is to develop comprehensive tools that enable users to efficiently manage, use, and serve geographic information to make a difference in the world around them. ESRI also provides consulting, implementation, and technical support services. www.esri.com.

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