Bringing satellite imagery into classrooms to inspire students

DigitalGlobe’s Sue Uyetake presents to the 6th graders at Westlake Middle School in Westminster, CO.Yesterday DigitalGlobe employees across the country participated in a classroom outreach initiative in honor of GIS Day, a global celebration of geographic information systems technology during Geography Awareness Week.

DigitalGlobe partnered with the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) to present the magic of satellites, mapping and crowdsourcing to over 1,000 school children across the country, with the hope of inspiring the students to dream about geospatial possibilities, future careers and how they can improve their communities and the world through mapping.  At the end of each presentation, we left children with a call of action to register with OpenStreetMap, map their school and choose a mapping project they would work on together to help to see a better world.

My experiences sharing what we do at DigitalGlobe with my own son’s middle school class in Washington, D.C. inspired me to launch this initiative.  My opportunity was to figure out how to replicate what I was doing in my son’s class to deliver a scaled impact. Then it came to me.

DigitalGlobe’s Amy Newbury, Daniel Strawn and Mike Sweezy present to the 5th graders at Timberline PK-8 in Longmont, CO.What makes DigitalGlobe successful are the 1,600+ brilliant employees who design, build and launch our satellites, and then harness the collected satellite imagery and unlock critical information and insight on our changing planet so that customers around the world can make decisions with confidence.

DigitalGlobe employees collectively represent tens of thousands of years of invaluable experience in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields such as aerospace engineering, satellite engineering, mission planning, system administration, software development, imagery analysis and advanced geospatial analytics.  So the goal of our initiative was to get our amazingly talented employees in as many classrooms as possible on GIS day to get students excited about STEM.

DigitalGlobe’s David Cox presents to a classroom at Mountain View Elementary School in Broomfield, CO.Education systems globally are focused on exposing more students to STEM.  However American STEM education could use our help.  Based on a recent International Student Assessment, the U.S. stands in the middle of the pack on science and math scores. Additionally, according to a survey conducted by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, most 8th grade students are not proficient in geography.

Our classroom outreach initiative is meant to inspire students. The positive reaction to our GIS Day activities motivated us to explore additional opportunities to encourage student involvement in K-12 STEM education. We are exploring these avenues with videos, case studies and projects designed to teach students through experiential learning for engineering, physics, geometry, geography, software development and more.

If you are interested in having a DigitalGlobe employee present in your son or daughter’s class, let us know and we will try our best to match you with a presenter.