Presenting Geography & GIS to Students

A picture from my slideshow.

As a child of educators, I can’t help but seek out opportunities for educating students whenever I can. One great avenue for those opportunities has been my outreach as an AAG Geomentor. The genesis for the AAG Geomentorship Program was a partnership between ESRI and AAG to increase the distribution of free ESRI ArcGIS Online licenses for K-12 schools. However, I have enjoyed presenting general Geography and GIS outreach among grades of all ages. One of my preferred methods is classroom presentations, which I often did virtually even pre-pandemic. 

A standard presentation varies by grade level, but I usually follow a basic format, outlined below:

  • Introduction of myself and general research focus
  • Identification of my work as geography
  • Explain basic geography concepts, especially those important to my work

While this is a great format that can be engaging with older students (such as middle school and up), I have had to alter this for younger levels. For elementary grades, I have found that shorter presentations getting straight to the point of the presentation (introduction to geography and GIS concepts), while employing a lot of visuals. Keeping these presentations brief (10 minutes or less) with a specific main point that can be generalized to a larger, meaningful relation to the everyday lives of students keeps the basic concepts in their minds. The visuals that represent that relationship also can help students stay engaged during the presentation. 

I also encourage you to have a conversation with the teacher in advance to find out what material the students are learning around the time of your presentation, so that way any of the material you intend to present can be related to the material they’re learning that week. This will serve both the teacher and you, because you will be able to offer material that isn’t completely new to them, and the teacher will appreciate you providing real world examples.

I’ve included a video of one of my most recent presentations to a second grade class in Texas in this post, and I hope it provides an example for you to follow when you venture out into presenting to students too! Virtual presentations may be easier than ever to set up, so look into it!

The presentation file is uploaded to this link, and the video of my presentation is uploaded here.

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