Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Shishmaref students learn GIS from geography grad

Charlie Parr, second from right, teaches GIS to (from left) Jessica Kuzuguk, Nellie Okpowruk and Esau Sinnok of Shishmaref.
Recent geography graduate Charlie Parr is teaching GIS to students from Shishmaref this summer.

In the six-week Upward Bound program, Parr is teaching math in the mornings and GIS in the afternoons. The students are learning how to create maps and solve spatial problems.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Parr said. “The kids are really into it. They have fascinating backgrounds. It’s definitely neat to see how much they have picked up in three weeks.” The class is being taught in the SNRAS GIS lab.

They particularly enjoyed learning 3-D visualization. “There have been some technology challenges for them but they have been open to everything they have been exposed to,” Parr said. “I’m impressed with how they have been able to pick up the technology. They have embraced it.”

A lifelong Fairbanksan, Parr earned a B.S. in geography with SNRAS a year ago. Last summer he worked at Pilgrim Hot Springs doing geothermal resource assessment project. In December he joined the staff at UAF Student Support Services. Having tutored students in past, Parr was up to the challenge of teaching in Upward Bound. He also coaches soccer and hockey.

He chose geography as his course of study because he found it holistic. “You can really investigate any kind of problem at any scale. It’s fascinating,” he said. As a student the most important thing he learned was how to ask meaningful questions. He would eventually like to work on a master’s degree in a geospatial field. “I want to continue to be involved in outreach and education,” he said.
Parr enjoys running, snowboarding, hiking, camping and fishing.

While he hasn’t been to Shishmaref, where his GIS students are from, he would like to visit in the future.

As a bonus for the students, a representative from NASA is working with them on the World Wind project. When they return home, they will take a drone and monitor coastal erosion. “They will be doing meaningful science when they go back to Shismaref,” Parr said.

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