Think Spatial!

Adolescents develop and evaluate tools for spatial and visual research and learning

The promotion of problem solving and shaping skills (Gestaltungskompetenz) should be in focus of educational institutions to enable adolescents for active participation in future shaping processes. In this context, the interactive application of tools and media is a key competence that requires increasingly the use of digital technology. Especially geographic information systems (GIS) can guide through communication processes, evaluation tasks and perception analysis and are therefore a crucial tool to promote future shaping skills. As digital natives, adolescents grew up with digital technology, but often limit their use to only a few applications like gaming and social networking.

Within the project Think Spatial! we developed an interactive learning tool together with school students to examine spatial aspects of their everyday life. The adolescents gathered existing applications and analysed them regarding their suitability for educational purposes. Knowledge and demands of adolescents were central for a target group focused realisation of the application. Beside the software development, the school students identified relevant research questions and implemented them in the application. In this way, the typical workflow of (research) projects like data gathering, analysis, visualisation and communication became visible and comprehensible. The integration of social network interfaces allowed the involvement of further participants for a broader data basis.

An accompanied evaluation, analysed the development process, the suitability as tool to promote shaping skills and the acceptance in school education. The development of educational materials for future users and user groups teached the school students concerning competences for knowledge transfer and ensured that the application could be used beyond the end of the project.

A transdisciplinary approach was applied for the cooperation with the schools. School students and teachers were involved in all working packages and contributed with their individual expert knowledge to the development of “their” application from the beginning of the project. The scientific team attended this process and delivered expert knowledge for the specific implementation steps.

The two-years cooperation allowed the implementation of a competence-orientated didactic approach where the school students acquired specific knowledge and skills. Within workshops, they learned about different methods for scientific work that could be applied directly in the working packages.

This project has a Top Citizen Science-extension project.

The aim of the project “Earth Construction in the Weinviertel: Further development of methods and tools from research-education cooperation to implement a citizen science project“ is to collect local and historical knowledge about clay buildings and their building stock with the help of citizens.

This project has been completed.