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On the Map with Six Nations Polytechnic STEAM Academy

This month’s On the Map features the work being done by passionate teachers at Six Nations Polytechnic STEAM Academy in Brantford, Ontario. Find out how they are revitalizing Haudenosaunee Culture and Stories with ArcGIS.

In honour of Indigenous History Month, we are highlighting the Six Nations Polytechnic (SNP) STEAM Academy for this month’s On the Map! We recently caught up with Christopher Martin, Indigenous Program Facilitator at SNP to learn more about what teachers have been doing with ArcGIS. With his ArcGIS experience and knowledge, he's been promoting ArcGIS to the teachers at the school, in addition to supporting their work.

Let’s find out what teachers Kali Anevich and Brooke Johnson have been doing with ArcGIS to engage students in learning about Haudenosaunee culture and history.

Three women sitting and smiling.

(Left-Right) Kali Anevich (SVN3M teacher), Robbi-Lynn Hill (SNP STEAM student), and Brooke Johnson (LNACO Teacher).

Kali Anevich, teacher at SNP STEAM Academy

What courses/grades do you teach?

I teach Geography and Environmental Science (SVN3M) classes and have been able to incorporate ArcGIS into much of my teaching.  

Tell me about your project/activity using ArcGIS

My grade 11 Environmental Science (SVN3M) class conducted environmental assessments of Mohawk Park and Lake in Brantford which is situated within the Haldimand Tract (Hodinohso:ni Land). Students collected data on water quality & E. coli levels, soil health, invasive plant species and Native tree species.

ArcGIS was a great fit for this project because students were able to use ArcGIS Survey123 to collect data and take photo evidence in the field in real time, offline. Once students got back to the school, they were able to view their data and photos on a map in ArcGIS Online.

ArcGIS also gave students the platform to display their findings in ArcGIS StoryMaps at the end of the project! We are excited to have collected baseline data that will be added annually to this project by future Environmental Science classes. 

An imagery map showing locations of tree species.

An example of the Environmental Assessment basemap using the Hodinohso:ni languages Cayuga/Mohawk to identify tree species and water.

What were some skills that your students learned/used in this activity?

Students learned how to create surveys to collect data, specifically based on the needs of the inquiry.

They were also able to develop their cartography skills by building maps with the data from the surveys. ArcGIS gave students the ability to customize their maps with individualized symbols and embed the Mohawk and Cayuga language by including the names of the tree species using map notes. Students were able to communicate their scientific findings through visually engaging story maps.  

A pop-up with information about water from the data collection activity.

An example of some of the data captured through Survey123 using water ranger test kits.

How long have you used ArcGIS and why do you think it is a good tool for teaching and learning?

This is the second year I have used ArcGIS in my classes, and I love it! Story maps specifically are very user friendly and allow students to create engaging, interactive, and visually pleasing presentations.

I love mapping with ArcGIS because there is the opportunity for students of all skill levels to engage with the maps from basic cartography to more advanced map making. It is a visually engaging and hands-on way of learning that I have seen resonate very well with our students. 

Students standing in front of a body of water collecting data on hand-held devices.

The Environmental Science class conducting data collection at Mohawk Lake.

What is planned for the next project/activity?

The next project idea is going to be to shed light on past and present-day land loss of the Hodinohso:ni people, on the Haldimand Tract. Geography classes have been creating polygons on top of georeferenced maps of the Haldimand Tract, Hodinohso:ni reserves across Turtle Island and the traditional territory of the Hodinohso:ni. The plan is for the next Geography class to take all those layers and be able to tell the story of the land loss over time with maps and story maps. Stay tuned! 

Brooke Johnson, teacher at SNP

What courses/grades do you teach? 

Most of my teaching is dedicated to grade 9-12 Gayogohono (Cayuga) Language (LNACO) at SNP STEAM, but I also teach University classes at SNP.

Tell me about your project/activity using ArcGIS

Students were to retell the story of the Peacemaker , who established The Great Law of Peace among the Hodinohso:ni Nations during times of war.  They were to use ArcGIS as a visual tool to help them recall his journey through Hodisononi History. The students essentially created resources for staff and students about this important story.  

A map showing locations of the events during the founding of the Great Law of Peace for the Hodinohso:ni Nations.

Robbi-Lynn Hill’s map of the Peacemakers’ Journey. All the points correspond chronologically to specific events during the founding of the Great Law of Peace for Hodinohso:ni Nations. “This is an awesome visual software and program for younger learners” - Robbi-Lynn Hill.

What were some skills that your students learned/used in this activity?

They used their extensive memory to recall the story based on hearing it throughout the years. They also had to use technical skills with story maps to align the locations on ArcGIS with the locations that take place in the Peacemakers journey.  They also learned how to utilize more features of ArcGIS StoryMaps such as sidecar, headings and subheadings. 

A map showing locations of the events during the founding of the Great Law of Peace for the Hodinohso:ni Nations.

An example of retelling the Great Law of Peace through ArcGIS StoryMaps in the immersive Sidecar.

How long have you used ArcGIS and why do you think it’s a good tool for teaching and learning?

I have only started using this platform this school year. Students now have another visual tool to utilize. I think it helps visualize our stories especially for students that aren’t familiar with them. 

What is planned for the next project/activity?

Nothing is set in stone yet, but I will continue to implement different activities with ArcGIS in my language courses.

Thank you, Kali and Brooke for sharing your work with us. Keep up the great work! We look forward to hearing more about your future projects.

Chris, it’s wonderful to see the progress in the use of ArcGIS at your school. Thank you for all you do to support the teachers in their use of the technology!

Learn more about the SNP STEAM Academy and stay connected @SNPSTEAM

This post was translated to French and can be viewed here.


About the Author

Angela Alexander is a K-12 Education Specialist in the Esri Canada Education and Research group. She has over 15 years of experience working with educators across Canada. Angela focuses on producing geographic information system (GIS) and curriculum-specific resources, and conducting and creating custom workshops for educators. She manages the GIS Ambassador Program and is the Technical Chair for the annual Skills Ontario GIS competition. Angela also writes monthly posts for the Esri Canada Education and Research blog, highlighting K-12 educators and partners, new ArcGIS resources and GIS-related events.

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