A new volunteer program aims at providing local students free science, arts and math education, with a particular emphasis on geospatial technology.
GatewayGIS will tutor K-12 students in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. Geospatial technology focuses on the science behind location-based services and mapping.
The organization will collaborate with volunteers from local and national agencies and organizations that will teach the specialized topics through classes and seminars.
The program launches Thursday at the Webster University Gateway Campus.
Organizers said the effort will emphasize serving students from low-income communities by introducing them to the technologies and skills needed within the geospatial industry.
“It just makes sense if we’re talking about dealing with young people who have not had the resources like others to be able to be marketable in today’s technology,” said GatewayGIS organizer Rosalind Norman.
Norman said the organization is expected to go through a five-year rollout phase. The first year will focus on high school juniors and seniors to prepare them for career opportunities after high school and college. Students from the Clyde C. Miller Career Academy High School will be the first to participate in the program.
“Having education and preparing them so they can be ready for a career opportunity or an entrepreneurial opportunity is very important,” Norman said.
Volunteers from the participating schools and organizations will also lead after-school programs and weekend seminars.
Students will also go through extensive training in the classroom utilizing software used by professional agencies such as the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.
One of the volunteers, Sekhar Prabhakar, of the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation St. Louis Area Working Group, said careers in geospatial location-based services will only become more important in the future.
“There is going to be a lot of energy that has to be put into this sector, and I think this is the perfect time because location-based services are gaining so much importance,” Prabhakar said.
Norman said she expects the program to expand to other schools over the next few years. The first seminar will take place Saturday at the National Blues Museum. Classes at Clyde C. Miller Career Academy High School will begin in the fall.
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