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US town adds digital mapping to students

Montgomery Director of Community Development and Planning, Bob Marmion and Wansoo Im of Vertices LLC have created a pilot program to incorporate interactive computer mapping applications into the curriculum for Montgomery school children and for use by the municipality, both township residents and staff.

The mapping applications utilize the township’s GIS, which the municipality has been building for five years, to allow users to view, search and analyze many different map layers in digital format. The programs will be used in different ways by the schools than by residents and township staff, but most of the mapping information is the same.

The idea for the school program, which will be offered at no cost to the district, first came about when Dr. Im was reviewing his daughters’ geography curriculum in the West Windsor-Plainsboro school district.

Montgomery was a great pilot town for the programs because it had already developed all of the mapping layers necessary for the project through its GIS division, said Dr. Im.

The township’s GIS program combines layers of mapping information to allow an individual the ability to pick specific information about a place.

Somewhat surprisingly, teachers from just about every subject area, from the sciences to history, were interested in using the programs and creating classroom assignments to go along with them. Other possible uses of the program include using the information in an eighth-grade social studies class to map changing demographics over a period of time while analyzing voter participation in the township. Or a high school science class could collect water or air samples, post them on the map and share the information with other students.

Mr. Marmion and Dr. Im have already created a Web site with historical sites of Montgomery on it that can be identified and mapped with ease. On the site, anyone can zoom in or out of historical sites, like the Dirck Gulick house, township schools and even private residences.