Skills Canada Ontario GIS Competition 2014: Highlighting Secondary Students' GIS Capabilities

May 15, 2014 Angela Alexander

The annual Skills Canada - Ontario Secondary School GIS Competition enables students to showcase their GIS capabilities and challenge themselves in the process. This year's participants were a group of hard-working, creative and energetic group of students. Find out more about the competition and how you can get your students involved next year.

Five teams participated in this year’s Skills Canada – Ontario Secondary School GIS Competition held on Tuesday May 6th at RIM Park in Waterloo, Ontario. The school boards included Peel District, Toronto Catholic District, Toronto District, Upper Grand District and Waterloo Region District.

The teams of two were challenged to locate the best place for a new provincial park in the Temagami area. Using ArcGIS for Desktop, students worked with a set of criteria to isolate possible locations through geoprocessing and analysis. ArcGIS Online was introduced to the competition this year as a way for students to search and access additional data that would be relevant to their project. At the end of the competition, using their final posters, each team had the opportunity to present their methodology, overall findings and maps to the judges.

Figure 1.1: Team Peel working hard during the Skills Canada – Ontario Secondary School GIS Competition.

Congratulations to Grade 11 students Peter Song and James Chapman from the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) who took the top prize. Encouraged by their former geography teacher Ewan Geddes, they decided to take up the challenge even though they weren’t enrolled in a geography class. They had competed in the regional TDSB GIS competition when they were in grade 9. The two students prepared for the competition by using Esri Canada’s tutorials on their free time and amazed the judges with their final project and presentation.

Peter and James gained a lot of confidence with this experience and, as a result, they plan to take geography next year. Here's how James described his experience:

"The Skills Canada Geographic Analysis contest allowed me to make a variety of new connections with professionals in the GIS field, from University of Waterloo Geography professors, to GIS analysts working for the Government of Canada. The competition not only prepared me for work in the geographic field, but also made me feel more optimistic about my future educational pursuits. My joy of geography has been rekindled and I look forward to pursuing related activities in the future."

Figure 1.1: TDSB's final poster.

Even though the day was long, all the teams worked hard and managed their time well. Overall, the teams produced some well-designed posters and the judges had a chance to provide feedback to each team on their work after the competition.

We thank all the teams for participating and we hope to see you again next year!

Read our previous blog post on Skills Canada to find out how you can involve your students in next year’s competition and visit our Skills Canada page to explore previous competition questions from Ontario.

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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