Defense mappers take their work to school

Defense mappers take their work to school

To encourage would-be cartographers and geographers, the National Imagery and Mapping Agency and NASA are using the Web to attract young visitors.

Besides creating online mapping games, NIMA has implemented a school partnership program at five elementary schools in the Washington and St. Louis areas.

'We try to spark an interest in geography in the children rather than have them look at geography as something boring to memorize,' said Joan Mears (left) of the Public Affairs Office at NIMA in Bethesda, Md. 'These are the folks we will draw from someday. They're the future geospatial and imagery analysts.'

NIMA's cartographers, aeronautical specialists, imagery analysts, geodesists and geospatial analysts talk to students about mapping the Earth's surface.

On their Web sites, both NIMA and NASA have sections featuring the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission from February of last year in which the space shuttle Endeavour spent 11 days mapping the world in 3-D.

The NIMA Shuttle Radar Topography Mission Kids Page is at 164.214.2.59/srtmkids/games/index.html. NASA's SRTM site is at www.radar.jpl.nasa.gov/srtm.

NIMA volunteers visit schools to explain geospatial research in language children can understand, said Sharon Smith of the NIMA Public Affairs Office in St. Louis, which oversees the partnership program.

'Students are shown how geographic data stored in a computer can be used to make a variety of maps,' she said.

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