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USGIF introduces its own interactive, educational map

US: As a way to inform and inspire students about geospatial intelligence (GEOINT), the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) created a large-format, interactive map of North America that is now available for schools and organizations to rent.

USGIF’s Portable Planet is a 35-by-26-foot map designed for children and teachers to walk on and explore its many features. Additionally, USGIF created cross-disciplinary, hands-on activities for educators to conduct on the map. The lessons not only teach geography, mapping, and the basics of GEOINT, but also allow students to practice skills in critical thinking, spatial analysis, teamwork, and more.

The map debuted in April at USGIF’s annual GEOINT Symposium in Tampa, Fla., where more than 120 Tampa-area students had the chance to enjoy the Portable Planet experience.

“In reflection after the GEOINT Symposium trip, many students shared their favorite activity of the day was the map,” said Sandra Janack, a fifth grade social studies teacher at Shorecrest Preparatory School in St. Petersburg, Fla. “Although we had practiced latitude and longitude coordinates over the course of the year, the map activities helped kids strengthen and solidify this skill. It was fun to watch the students moving around the map—estimating, collaborating, and sharing their thinking to find locations to solve puzzles. Running around the map with the purpose of finding locations was so much more engaging for the students than using a paper map at their desks.”

Portable Planet is just one of many offerings under USGIF’s K-12 Educational Outreach Program, which fosters awareness of GEOINT and the role it plays in our everyday lives. The Foundation has created educational resources for K-12 classrooms in order for students to learn more about geospatial sciences and the many career fields that require these skills.

To learn more about Portable Planet or to rent the map, please visit usgif.org/education/K-12/PortablePlanet.