North Carolina State University

GAPS (Geospatial Analytics for Problem Solving) for Hi-Tech Teens
GAPS (Geospatial Applications for Problem Solving) for Hi-Tech Teens

Location matters in science, society, and decision-making. It is an integral part of everyone’s lives, from the source of water we drink, the route we drive to work, where we get our food, to the high school we attend or the neighborhood we decide to live in. Whether we realize it or not, we use spatial information every single day, and people, places, and things are all spatially connected in some way, generating huge amounts of data that could be used to help solve many of the problems facing both local communities and global citizens.

It is for these reasons that the GAPS for Hi-Tech Teens (Geospatial Applications for Problem Solving) Program has been developed, with the overall goal of introducing students in grades 9-12 to this exciting field by offering hands-on activities, career exploration, and community-focused analysis through a collaboration with the Wade Edwards Learning Lab (WELL), the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation and the Center for Geospatial Analytics at North Carolina State University, and RTI International. By 1) engaging students in community-focused decision making using Geospatial science, 2) increasing student capacity for creating and using interactive geovisualization technologies, 3) exposing students to GIS-STEM related college programs and career paths, and 4) supporting student success in math and science with tutoring, we encourage the next generation of geospatial scientists.

The GAPS program consists of 2 unique 8-week cohorts during the academic year including 2 hours of activities and 2 hours of open lab per week in addition to a 1-week summer program focused on career and college preparedness. The overall goals of this program are achieved by having students:

  • Develop community-relevant projects where participants work together to define a spatial topic, acquire necessary data, develop relevant geospatial models through student-built systems, analyze and visualize results, and communicate findings to peers and the public
  • Build their own tangible landscape system coupled with GIS. Students also learn how to map using GIS software. In addition, each cohort participates in a technology field trip to NC State’s Geovisualization Lab where they interact with advanced geospatial technologies, including Virtual Reality, GazeGIS, SimTable sandbox models, 3-D glasses, GigaPan cameras, and GPS units.
  • Interact with and observe geospatial professionals through an expert panel, and college and career field trips during the 1-week summer program. The semester cohorts also be mentored by professional collaborators at RTI International and NC State, community partners, as well as the graduate and undergraduate assistants.
  • Participate in STEM tutoring activities, which are be available for 6 hrs/week outside of regular program activities at the WELL.


Eric S. Money
Associate Director Center for Geospatial Analytics
North Carolina State University