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JuniorTukkie Geospatial Tech Camp

On Monday, 13 July 2015, 50 Grade 11 learners from all over South Africa arrived at the Hatfield Campus of the University of Pretoria (UP) to register for this year’s JuniorTukkie Geospatial Tech Camp. The Camp is a locally developed follow-up to the successful Global Connections and Exchange: My Community, Our Earth Tech (MyCoE) Camp that was held at UP in 2014.

The event is organised by JuniorTukkie, the Centre for Geoinformation Science, EIS-Africa and the South African Geography Teachers Association. The support of sponsors – Statistics South Africa, Esri South Africa, the CSIR and the Geo-information Society of South Africa (GISSA) – has made this week possible. Learners received valuable experience and information to assist them in making informed study and career decisions. Fun events, including drumming and a potjiekos competition, took place in the evenings.

The Tech Camp programme (based on MyCoE) incorporates three days of training, cultural exchange, mapping and planning, hands-on sessions in utilising geospatial technologies, designing community team projects, meeting leading industry partners, and learning basic computer literacy and essential life skills, such as study methods and time management. Learners got to know more about how to apply geospatial technologies in support of their communities. They also received extensive information on study options, bursary opportunities and careers where geospatial technologies are applied.
High school teachers and several UP students guided the learning experiences and acted as chaperones for social excursions. Activities included presentations, small group discussions, lectures, interactive training sessions, simulations and role-playing, teambuilding exercises, case studies, leadership training and social time with peers. These activities were counterbalanced with hands-on applied activities such as site visits, work in computer labs, and team-based community project design and development. The teams were given the task of identifying and solving a current and relevant problem on Campus for which a map would be required. Examples included mapping noise pollution and finding a suitable site for a new residence. Learners were encouraged and guided to form scientifically derived understandings of problems and to take action, make a difference and participate in applying solutions.
Participants were selected on the basis of:
  • showing an interest in geospatial technology,
  • showing an aptitude for leadership and community service,
  • showing creativity, flexibility, maturity, integrity, good social skills and open-mindedness,
  • having the motivation required to be active and successful,
  • being sufficiently proficient in English to participate fully in all exchange activities, and
  • complying with JuniorTukkie’s membership requirement to achieve an average of at least 70%, and
  • obtaining an average of at least 60% in Mathematics, English and Physical Science.
At the end of the week, learners presented the projects they had worked on during the week and also received feedback on the projects.
On Thursday, 17 July, the JuniorTukkie Geospatial Tech Camp was concluded with an official closing ceremony where each participant received a certificate of attendance, presented to them by the Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences.

What is geospatial technology?

Geography is the science of place and space. Geographers ask where things are located on the surface of the earth, why they are located where they are, how places differ from one another, and how people interact with the environment. As the study of the earth’s landscapes, peoples, places and environments, it is, quite simply, about the world in which we live. Geography is unique in bridging the social sciences (human geography) with the natural sciences (physical geography). Because thinking about space and place is relevant to a variety of topics such as economics, health, engineering, climate, plants and animals, geography is highly interdisciplinary. It is also a very appropriate perspective from which to consider complex issues, such as sustainable development, that involve economic, social and environmental dimensions at the same time. Geographers, planners and other scientists and professionals use many technologies and techniques to learn about our world. Such geospatial technologies are used increasingly in some of the most important emerging fields in attempts to understand our complex world. Emerging fields include mobile maps, in-vehicle navigation, geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing, earth observation, the global positioning system (GPS), and online maps such as Google Earth and OpenStreetMap. Geospatial technologies allow us to view, understand, question, interpret and visualise data in many ways that reveal relationships, patterns and trends in the form of maps, globes, reports and charts. Geospatial technologies assist in answering questions and solving problems by looking at data in a way that is quickly understood and easily shared. They also help us to make intelligent and informed decisions about the way we live on our planet. In addition, geospatial technologies are used more and more by individuals in everyday life, for example to get directions to a specific location or to find the closest fast food outlet.

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Last edited by Martha KilianEdit