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Hide and Tweet: A game to teach schoolchildren about spatial technologies

Author Justyna Ciepluch, Ricky Jacob, Blazej Ciepluch and Peter Mooney
Abstract As part of the Geotechnology research team at NUI Maynooth we were involved in the preparation and running of various activities in the Summer School on Computer Science for school children aged between 12 to 18 years old. Since year 2009 we have been constantly developing, testing, and deploying some geospatial software applications which were used by the children for activities in the summer school programme. The high level goal of this development was to help school children become more familiar GPS devices and computer-based Location-based services (LBS) technologies which are now playing such a crucial role in today's Internet connected society. The software applications were used as part of games and tasks for the children. In our paper we shall describe how these games have evolve during these years, the educational aspects and benefits of the game and how both the software components and devices were developed. Overall, children participating in the summer-school provided their comments in the form of a survey. They felt that there were now more aware about possibilities in geoinformatics available with 'ordinary off the shelf devices'. Different issues related with web-based maps (Google Maps, OpenStreetMap, Bing Maps, etc) were introduced and we explained the differences between them. Most importantly in case of geo-technologies we felt that the activities helped the children become aware that that computing and positioning happens everywhere and is not tied with the desk and the desktop computer. We summarise our experiences gained in these last three years and discuss the educational gains of this type of game-based approach to location-based technologies to schoolchildren. All of our software is developed using free and open-source components meaning that it can be deployed by any school or educational facility with minimum cost. A smartphone-based version of the software has also been developed.
Published In ICEP Proceedings
Year 2011
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