Students use mapping technology to learn about a mining company in their community

September 29, 2016 Angela Alexander

A great way to engage students in learning is to connect with local businesses in your community. Students from a school in Perth, Ontario partnered with a local mining company to conduct a reclamation survey using Esri software. Read more about this interesting project and find out what technology they used to collect and map their survey findings.

Earlier this year, Greg Anderson’s grade 12 students in the Geo-Venture Program at Perth and District Collegiate Institute (P&DCI) conducted a survey project at a local Omya mine and plant. Students learned about the importance and everyday use of calcite, the mineral that’s mined at the Perth location.

In January, Elijah Funston, a teacher from P&DCI, and his “iCoach” students hosted an iPad Conference at the school for local businesses and community organizations. After the conference, Omya expressed an interest in working with P&DCI’s students on a project.  Rory Hughes,  mine manager at Omya, and his colleagues identified the need for a survey of their reclamation areas around Omya’s Perth plant and Tatlock mine locations. 

Greg Anderson and his GeoVenture students tour the Omya Tatlock, Ontario mine before surveying a reclamation area on the property.

Using tablets, smartphones and the Collector for ArcGIS app, the students had an opportunity to go into the field with professional mapping technology. They surveyed trees found on the reclamation areas at Omya’s Perth Plant and defined reclamation boundaries at Omya’s Tatlock Mine.  This project included three full school days of onsite training and data collection.

P&DCI’s GeoVenture students used the Collector for ArcGIS app at one of the reclamation sites at the Omya Perth, Ontario plant.

Back in the classroom, students used ArcGIS Desktop and ArcGIS Online to view, analyze and  create maps of the field data they collected using Collector. Greg’s students made a formal presentation to Omya at the end of June and provided printed and digital maps of the survey results.

The project allowed the students to apply what they learned about resource management and mapping from the course in the real world, as they worked with a partner within their community. It was also a unique collaborative approach to education, as many individuals who contributed to the students’ learning were involved, including:

  • Greg Anderson, who assisted with the resource management information and field work
  • Elijah Funston, who acted as the project manager and technical advisor between the various members and the students
  • Rory Hughes and his colleagues at Omya, who shared their knowledge of the mining industry
  • Jeff Ward, a retiree from Ministry of Natural Resources, who assisted with the forestry and tree identification
  • Stephanie Kirkham, a teacher candidate from Queens University, who assisted with the data analysis
  • Hayleigh Conway from Esri Canada’s Education and Research group, who provided ArcGIS technical support to Stephanie Kirkham

The GeoVenture students initially tested Collector around their high school using school iPads before doing the field work for the Omya project.

The project started a relationship between P&DCI and a local business that will grow, as monitoring of Omya’s reclamation assets at the mine and plant will continue for years to come.

Thank you to Greg Anderson and Elijah Funston at P&DCI for their input to this blog post. We look forward to hearing about the progress of this project in the near future.

If you have an interesting project you want to share, let us know and you might be highlighted in a future post.

About the Author

Angela Alexander

Angela Alexander is a K-12 Education Resource Developer on the Esri Canada Education and Research team. She has over six years of experience working with educators across Canada. Angela is responsible for producing geographic information system (GIS) and curriculum specific resources, conducting and creating custom workshops for educators and judging and developing the question for the annual GIS Skills Ontario competition in Waterloo, Ontario. Angela has a Bachelor’s degree in Geography and Sociology from the University of Western Ontario and completed the Applied Digital Geography and GIS certificate program at Ryerson University.

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