Glendale Elementary School third-grade students took a technological leap forward when they were handed five GPS receivers for use in a ‘school mapping project’. The primary objective of the project is for third and fourth grade students to encounter lessons in geography using GPS and incorporating them into social studies, science, math, art and language arts lessons.
Teacher Laura M. Lombas came up with the idea to involve students in the creation of an actual map of the school’s grounds so they would better understand compass directions and measurements. She obtained the receivers through a grant. According to the grant description, students will work in cooperative groups, pinpoint their location using the GPS handhelds, plot their locations on a map, and solve various quests that utilize higher order thinking skills in math, science, social studies and language arts. They will also map locations within the school grounds and surrounding community and create a pinpoint accurate coordinate map of the area. The intent of the project is to teach students not only map reading skills, but to show them how to construct new maps using their own coordinate axis.
St. Landry Bank and Trust Company sponsored the grant through The Acadiana Educational Endowment.
“Anything you can do to promote learning, especially the technology that is going along with this particular program, is going to benefit everyone in the community,” said Chuck Richard, St. Landry Bank and Trust Company senior vice president and manager of the Eunice office. Last Wednesday was the first day the students actually had a chance to take the devices outside and work with them. The machines not only tell the students where they are standing, but are capable of tracking a student’s movement and speed. Students tested the receiver’s ability to read speed by sprinting across the front lawn of the school.
Lombas said she got the idea for the project at a state INTECH social studies workshop she attended last summer in Kaplan. Bill Says, development director for The Acadiana Educational Endowment, said the GPS grant was one of 27 mini-grants distributed this year within the eight-parish area that the endowment serves. He said a total of about $20,000 is given out yearly. Money that is given by various local sponsors, such as St. Landry Bank and Trust Company, he said. There were a total of 98 grant applications received by the endowment, this year and 10 of those were from St. Landry Parish. The name of Lombas’ project is “X Marks the Spot: A Study of Geographic Information Systems.”