Executive Summary: The GRACE project successfully addressed its project goals in its third year. The major accomplishments include: 1) Recruitment of 160 new teachers (bringing the recruitment total to 263 teachers, including a total of 158 trained teachers; 2) Development of two online professional development five-unit courses and 90 hours of professional development using these courses; 3) Based on this professional development, creation by GRACE Teachers of course descriptions, calendars, course content objectives, and an activity log of outcomes using the ESRI five-level model for lesson/project implementations; 4) Based on these courses, engagement of 3533 students at the explorer level and 4693 students at the Investigator level, bringing the three year total to approximately 13,000 at both levels, for a total of approximately 26,000 students; 5) Facilitation of 92 GIS internships, with 66 interns completed virtual campus training (bringing a total of 167 GIS internships and 49 non-GIS internships); 6) Continued support of an extensive and active online social networking site; 7) Dissemination through publications, websites, and media reports; and 8) Partnership building through presentations at scholarly and professional meetings.
Overall, the four year goals of the GRACE project are: 1) Establish a three-stage process (Explorers, Investigators, Interns) that encourages a large number of middle and high school students and teachers to engage in learning through GIS/T experiences across the State of Michigan; and 2) Provide workplace and college experiences to students from underrepresented and rural communities.
Our major activities for the third year fall into six areas: lesson development, teacher professional development, student engagement and training, internships, dissemination, and social networking.
For the third year, we had specific shorter term objectives related to both goals.
A) For the three stage process, our third year objectives can be categorized into four of the five areas listed above:
1) Lesson development: We were planning to modify existing Explorer and Investigator lessons.
2) Teacher professional development: We were planning to train 40 additional teachers at the Explorer level, and of those 40, to continue their training to the Investigator level for 30 teachers, bringing the three year total to 120 teachers, with at least 90 trained at the Investigator level.
3) Student engagement and training: We were planning to expose approximately 1500 students at the Explorer level and 1000 students at the Investigator level.
4) Social networking: We were planning to continue utilizing a social networking site for teachers and encourage active participation throughout the lesson development and implementation process.
B) For the workplace and college experiences, our second year goals fell into two specific objectives:
1) Building partnerships for internships: We were planning to continue to establish partnerships and identify sites for internship activities in Year 3 and Year 4 of the grant.
2) Student engagement and training: We were planning to complete at least 150 internships.
3) Communicate with other universities in Michigan to host college campus visits in Year 4 of the grant.
For the third year (as with the first and second years), we were successful in addressing our objectives, although we fell short in reaching all expectations for reasons common to grants of this nature explained below.
A) For the three stage process, here are our results for each of objectives listed above:
(i) Lesson development: (MVU report)
(ii) Teacher professional development: (MVU report)
(iii) Student engagement and training: (MVU report)
(iv) Social networking: We continued to support our social networking site for teachers within The ESRI “Geonet” portal at https://geonet.esri.com/groups/grace . We were able to engage all active teachers in this social networking site throughout the lesson development and implementation process. These teachers networked not only among themselves, but also with program coordinators, and with other members of the GIS community.
B) For the workplace and college experiences, our third year goals fell into three areas:
(i) Building partnerships for internships: The internship program is an important and unique component of the GRACE project. As a technology based STEM program aiming to encourage and stimulate students into thinking about continued study in the sciences and technology, the internship experience is designed to provide the critical link from learning and knowledge gain to application and practice.
Form its inception, the GRACE has initiated dialogues with Michigan Communities Association of Mapping Professionals (MiCAMP) and Michigan State Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB) to reach a Tri-Agency Agreement (DTMB, MiCAMP and EMU) to create shared resources to implement the GRACE internship program. In principle, this Tri-Agency agreement intends to foster collaboration between these three organizations, to share responsibilities, and to create an environment, in which a student intern can be placed in a place where there are needs for GIS projects, available funds to pay intern’s stipend and the strong administrative support to enable the intern placement to be smooth. For instance, the board of directors of MiCAMP decided to convert MiCAMP’s all budget allocations to the student internship stipend. This conversion greatly helped the placement of internships in the remote regions and in small community organizations. In addition, MiCAMP and DTMB successfully helped recruit professional geomentors for the project.
(ii) Student recruitment, engagement and training: The GRACE project continued to recruit student internship candidates for intensive GIS training so that these candidates would be prepared for internship assignments in Summer 2017. We utilized our Website for the GRACE Internship Program (www.nsfgrace.net), on which we published all related information about the intensive GIS training, the software license request, the online support, and the learning progress report (see the screen shot below). We continued to use the GIS training contents according to the current industrial standards, ArcGIS Desktop Entry Level Certification (www.nsfgrace.net/helpdesk/index.php).
We did an excellent job of recruiting the internship. There were 119 students who registered the internship program and 66 students who completed the internship intensive GIS training. Among them, 59 students were from City of Detroit.
The placement efforts of 2017 summer internship program were focused on the following areas, where there were GIS project needs and a sufficient number of students who were registered for training: City of Detroit (73 interns), Michigan Upper Peninsula (13 Interns), Monroe (4 interns, with 2 previous interns acting as mentors), and St. Claire Shores (2 interns).
In the City of Detroit, there were eleven different sites with a total of 73 internships:
A) SEMCOG Data Analysis Group: 2 interns
B) Planning & Development Office: 1 intern
C) Department of Innovation and Technology: 2 interns
D) Public Safety Data Manager: 1 intern
E) City Engineering Division: 4 interns
F) Department of Transportation: 1 intern
G) King High School: 14 interns
H) Renaissance High School: 12 Interns
I) Western High School: 3 Interns
J) Cass Tech High School: 11 Interns
K) Douglass High School: 22 Interns
The student interns who worked at the school sites in City of Detroit developed 18 ArcGIS Online digital stories based on their GIS projects:
Cass Tech High School
1. Story Map Title: Detroit’s Parks, Created by the student: Adebisola Adedokun
2. Story Map Title: Graduation rate for DPS, Created by the student: Mercedes Carter, Web-link: https://arcg.is/1n0qnb
3. Story Map Title: Land Use Change in Detroit, Created by the student: Glomyko Conley Jr., Web-link: https://arcg.is/beCXv
4. Story Map Title: Hospital History in Detroit, Created by the student: Thaslimah Rahman, Web-link: https://arcg.is/1qKmqf
5. Story Map Title: Detroit’s Grocery Stores, Created by the student: Niamul Labib, Web-link: https://arcg.is/1LyOTS
6. Story Map Title: Attractions in Detroit, Created by the student: Ariah Bradford, Web-link: https://arcg.is/XDu5u
Martin Luther King Jr High School
7. Story Map Title: Underage Driving in the United States of America, Created by the students: Anthony Cotton Jr., Demiris Brown Jr., Web-link: http://arcg.is/2u2n849
8. Story Map Title: Labor Unions, Created by the students: Lauren-Ashlea Macon, Web-link: http://arcg.is/1zr0q9
9. Story Map Title: Michigan Recreation Sites, Created by the students: Delana Bailey, Jasmine Anderson, Ridgeley Hudson Jr., Web-link: http://arcg.is/2vMZ2MD
10. Story Map Title: Detroit Car Insurance and Theft, and Detroit Green Project, Created by the students: Ian Jones, Jayden Lewis, Mark Miller, Web-link: https://arcg.is/fOyKK
11. Story Map Title: Wayne County Hospitals & Urgent Cares, Created by the students: Keyelle Thomas, Mia Cowans, Web-link: http://arcg.is/a8LWm
Renaissance High School
12. Story Map title: Five Days In July Detroit '67, Created by the students: Tyrese Anderson, Natasha Rice, Deante Whitehead, Azanjah Coleman, Raina Chambliss, Web-link: http://arcg.is/2sHaSKw
13. Story Map Title: The 67' Uproar, Created by the students: Raeil Hardy, Tiffany Hansbro, Victoria Royster, Morgan Turner, Elijah Cooper, Web-link: http://arcg.is/2tgJoK7
Western International High School
14. Story Map Title: Migration and Immigration in Southwest Michigan, Created by the students: Jerimiah Rivera, Merarys Popa, Jason Salcedo,
Detroit Youth Violence Prevention Initiative (DYVPI) – Detroit Summer 2017 (Douglass College Preparatory Academy)
15. Story Map Title: Safe Route to Coleman A Young, Created by the students: Brooklyn Peterson, Alexia Alston, Martinez Brogdon, Jada Duren,
16. Story Map Title: Safe Route to Henderson, Created by the students: Levi Collins, NaKisha Pickett, Amoni Cooper, Guylan Crawford, Web-link: https://arcg.is/1LH9mK
17. Story Map Title: Safe Route to John R King, Created by the students: Jordan Crawford, Teianna Joiner, Jermya Murray, Anhnony Nolen, Web-link: https://arcg.is/1LfTyy
18. Story Map Title: Safe Route to Nolan, Created by the students: Jamari Thomas, Amir Williams, Kolby Williams, David Dyer, Web-link: http://arcg.is/0WHre5
In UP: 13 Interns:
The students spent week one on some additional training and did some mapping of the Keweenaw Fault with Michigan Technology University (MTU) geologists and a staffer from the State Geological Survey. Week two, they mapped 32 different parks in Calumet, Laurium, Houghton, and Hancock and collected over 10,000 observations about the quantity and quality of the amenities, shade, accessibility, and features of the parks. Week 3, they processed and organized the data into a comprehensive geo-database, which contained mapping 48 variables about the local environment including built environment variables, physical characteristics, and social characteristics. They also interacted with the archaeologists from the National Park Services (NPS) Midwest Archaeological Center and Tim Scarlett learning about the use of ground penetrating radar to locate, map, and analyze subsurface cultural features at the Quincy Mine Office. Weeks 4 and 5, they conducted the community built environment and health research. They developed ten research projects examining how teenagers view the characteristics of their environment and how these environmental factors impact their health and well-being. Further, no work has seen teenagers collect the data and analyzed the results themselves! The geo-mentors from MTU helped the student interns brainstorm research approaches and options, but the interns independently developed the research questions and analyzed the results themselves! Week 6, the interns prepared the summer interns presentations on the basis of their research findings and published their presentations in the form of ArcGIS Online Stories (see the link,
In Monroe: 4 interns (along with 2 student intern mentors) worked with the Monroe County Planning Department.
In St. Claire Shores: 2 interns worked with Anderson, Eckstein and Westrick, Inc.
Moreover, for the purpose of disseminating the achievements of the NSF GRACE student interns’ GIS experiences and products, we selected 7 student interns, 3 teachers, 2 GIS professional mentors, and 2 GRACE project staffers to present at Michigan Communities GIS Conference (http://micamp.org/conference/), September 27-29, 2017. Detroit will have 3 students, 1 teacher and 1 geo-mentor; UP will have 2 students, 1 teacher and 1 geo-mentor; Monroe will have 2 students and 1 teacher; and EMU will have 2 project staff to coordinate the team presentations.
(iii) College Campus visits
The GRACE project didn’t host the campus visit for the high school students in the current grant year. The main consideration is that the project leadership team was planning to have two campus visits to other universities in Michigan in the final grant year. We hope that the students in different regions could have opportunities to visit university campuses in their locality. We have discussed with Detroit Public Schools to organize a campus visit to Wayne State or University of Michigan at Dearborn and with Michigan Technology University to host a campus visit for the students in Calumet High School and Houghton High School.
Key outcomes or other achievements:
(i) A larger geographic diversity of teacher participants in the professional development and lesson implementation activities of the project.
(ii) More efficient and effective use of staff time in conducting professional development activities and supporting teacher participants.
(iii) Use of trained GRACE Teachers as resources in the integration of GIS/T in various curriculum fields.
(iv) School-based support as new cohort participants are from schools of already trained GRACE Teachers.
(v) GRACE Place continues to be one of the largest GIS groups on GeoNet
(vi) Significant number of GRACE teachers using ESRI Virtual Campus
(vii) Major advances in the use of LearnArcGIS site for instructional use
(viii) Increasing collaboration between GRACE Instructors across the state.
In its third year, the GRACE project has continued to actively promote its strategies, materials, and findings:
A) Media dissemination:
(i) A GRACE Newsletter was submitted to participants and other related communities on project progress.
(ii) Anderson, D., and Xie, Y. (2016). “Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for Community-Based Internships”. 2016 National Dropout Prevention Network Conference (Detroit, MI). October 3, 2016.
(iii) Hoff, A., Starr, M., and Anderson, D. (2016). “Integrating ArcGIS across Disciplines”. 2016 California STEM Symposium (Anaheim, CA). October 10, 2016.
(iv) Xie, Y. (2017). “GIS/T Resources & Applications for Career Education (GRACE) – The Student Internship Program.” 15th International Conference on Learning, Education and Pedagogy (ICTEL 2017), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, June 14-15, 2017.
(v) Hoff, A. and Raymond, R. (2017). “Community-based GIS Internships for Michigan High School Students”. ESRI International GIS Education Conference, San Diego, July 8-11, 2017.
(vi) Mahone, A. and Lewandowski, A. (2017). “Rivers for the Common Good (Elementary Students Using Geo-spatial Technologies to Study Water Quality of the Great Lakes)”. ESRI International GIS Education Conference, San Diego, July 8-11, 2017.
1) Fitzpatrick, C. (2017) “Fun with GIS: GRACE” (https://geonet.esri.com/community/education/blog/2017/08/23/fun-wth-gis-216-grace).
2) Keweenaw Report: GRACE Interns Research Community Issues (http://www.keweenawreport.com/news/grace-interns-research-community-issues/).
3) Smith, S. (2016). The GRACE Project Offers Up the Keweenaw Time Traveler with GIS (https://www10.giscafe.com/blogs/gissusan/2016/09/13/the-grace-project-offers-up-the-keweenaw-time-traveler-with-gis/), GISCafe.
4) Directions Report Staff (2016). G.R.A.C.E. Project team creates ‘time machine’ with GIS (https://www.directionsmag.com/article/1126), Directions Magazine.
Executive Summary: The GRACE project is active in creating appropriate products to recruit teachers, disseminate project activities, and identify new partnership opportunities. This includes 6 websites and social media sites, and a recruitment/informational video. The project has also developed new pedagogical techniques utilizing online GIS technology.
Websites: We have continued to support the following websites and social media sites:
Official website: http://nsfgrace.net
Companion website: http://igre.emich.edu/igre/gisresearch/natinal/GRACE
Technology and Techniques:
The GRACE lesson modules are products that reflect cutting-edge instructional techniques: They address a scaffolded approach to pedagogy across 3 role levels (Explorer, Investigator, Intern), as well as across all five instructional levels as defined by ESRI (Presentation/demonstration, scripted activity, expanded scripted activity, directed inquiry, and open inquiry with fluid exploration).
The project continues exploring and improving the project’s social network infrastructure by introducing new and cutting-edge tools, such as GeoNet and ArcGIS Online Organizations (AGOO).
Executive Summary: The GRACE project is building a strong and diverse partnership to support SPrEaD activities and enhance systemic and sustainable change. The collaboration includes seven well established and highly effective organizations in the area of STEM education and GIS technology.
Eastern Michigan University
Michigan Virtual University
Michigan Mathematics and Science Centers Network
Michigan Communities Association of Mapping Professionals
Michigan Earth Science Teachers Association
Environmental Systems Research Institute
Education Design, INC
Executive Summary: The GRACE project is completing its third year, we are in the process of documenting its impact. We have developed a new assessment instrument and our initial research/evaluation results are leading to new scholarly dialogues in the field.
Impact on the base of knowledge, theory, and research and/or pedagogical methods in the principal disciplinary field(s) of the project:
In order the measure the impact program activities, the GRACE project has developed a research framework addressing four interrelated strands: a) Students; b) Teachers; c) School to Work pathways (Internships); and c) Scale-up strategies.
a) Students: The research on students is based on Astin’s Input-Environment-Outcome (I-E-O) framework. At the input level, we are collecting contextual data, including community type, school type, grade level, discipline area, technology level, age, gender, race/ethnicity, and socio-economic level. At the environment level, we are collecting classroom level data, including number of modules completed, sequence of modules, and time on task estimates. At the outcome level (over both explorer and investigator levels), we are collecting pre/post attitudinal data (using our new attitudinal assessment), pre/post standardized tests (including a spatial reasoning assessment), and NGSS-aligned performance-based assessments. Our analysis will consist of multiple regression analysis, and where appropriate, structural equation modeling (SEM).
Specifically, we have gathered additional data using an attitudinal survey instrument that addresses appropriate quality criteria: validity, reliability, cultural responsiveness, brevity, comprehensiveness, and ease of online delivery to multiple platforms including mobile devices. The instrument constructs are grounded in the scholarly literature as being the most prominent in the field, including interest, confidence, commitment, career motivation, personal relevance, perceived value, perceived ability, self-efficacy, self-determination, and intrinsic/extrinsic motivation, and is aligned with NGSS standards. These additional data continue to show gains in student attitudes (see Appendix X1 – GRACE-Student-Survey for survey description, reliability coefficients, and attitude gains).
b) Teachers: The research on teachers focuses on the impact of professional development through the 150 hours of either hands-on or online workshop experiences. Surveys of teachers, interviews, and classroom observations were used to collect data. This data was analyzed using emergent methods aligned to implementation design. The results address teacher motivation, technology skills, and GIS/spatial relationship content.
c) School-to-Work Pathways: The school-to-work research is based upon Activity Theory as applied to e-learning (Robertson, 2008), which examines the dynamic interaction among students, community, and learning objectives through learning tools, social rules/norms, and division of labor. This research draws from an expanded instrument which combines the attitudinal survey (described above), along with items addressing spatial reasoning skills, and specific internship experiences (see Appendix X2 – GRACE-Intern-Survey). This is combined with a survey of the geomentors addressing their work experiences with the interns (see Appendix X3 – GRACE-Mentor-Survey).
To address the key elements of Activity Theory, we have also completed qualitative interviews with interns, mentors, and community-based professionals. Based on a thematic analysis of these interview transcripts, we have identified the following:
1) internships should be organized around clear inquiry-driven community-based problems of practice, established well in advance of the beginning of the internship;
2) internships are most effective with groups of interns, where a dynamic synergy allows cooperative learning;
3) internships are most effective when there is clear and continuous communication among geomentors, office professionals, and student interns, including establishing clear expectations and deadlines for final projects and monitoring student progress;
4) internships require that basic online training be completed before the beginning of the projects, but additional GIS training should be flexible enough to allow “just-in-time” learning;
5) explorer/Investigator training was not necessary for successful internships, but virtual campus training is important and was seen as immediately relevant and valuable to interns (although some interns found it difficult to complete the virtual campus courses, without significant support from mentors);
6) internships are most effective when students are placed within their own communities and address current community-based issues;
7) internships are most effective when students work within the office environment, outside of the school environment;
8) internships motivate students to remain in school and in some cases raised motivation for STEM careers;
9) internships encourage students to focus on career skills beyond GIS skills, including communication skills, critical thinking skills, and inquiry-based problem solving skills – in fact, student development was most pronounced around “professional behaviors” within the workplace, more so than GIS/STEM skills.
10) internships lead to transformative experiences for mentors and community officials, as well as students, including overcoming career “burn-out” – in fact, there was evidence of mentor development through “pedagogical” stages;
11) internships can lead to broader community involvement, which, in turn drives broader school participation.
12) it is clear that very different models are necessary for larger urban areas, where teacher involvement remains limited, given the work demands in those areas.
d) Scale-Up: The research on scale-up is framed by the five dimensions of the Dede matrix: depth, sustainability, spread, shift, and evolution. Our findings are now drawing from business models as well as academic ones, including branding, “light versions”, bounded process, cost efficiency, local adaptation and applicability, as well as community-based partnerships. Overall, we are finding that sustainability and spread require community “learning clusters” that are project-driven. These community partnerships will drive school involvement. Projects that begin with curriculum changes are less successful. Also, we are discovering that developing these community-based learning clusters require different models for rural, urban, and suburban contexts. Changes seem to be built around leverage/tipping/pressure points driven by early adopters and clear inquiry-based community needs which lead to positive feedback loops within the community partnerships.
At this point in time, we have identified the following:
The Strategies of Spreading GRACE Internship Program Across Michigan
1. Current Internship Implementation Models
1) Completing the 8 required ESRI courses before starting the internship (the students in Monroe, Detroit, and several other locations)
2) Completing the 8 required courses at the first week of internship (the students in UP)
3) Completing the 8 required courses during the weeks of summer internship (a group of students in Detroit Public Schools Community District)
4) Completing part of the 8 required courses during the weeks of summer internship (a group of students in Detroit Youth Violence Prevention Program; a group of students in Detroit Public Schools Community District)
5) Interns working at the work sites
6) Interns working at the university computer labs
7) Interns working at the high school computer labs
2. Lessons Learnt from Current Models
1) Though it was very demanding, the students met the requirement and felt very awarding when performing internship assignment;
2) Too boring and stressful to complete the 8 required ESRI courses before starting the internship;
3) Many students dropped out the training program because of the heavier training request;
4) Many teachers were not willing to recruit students because of the heavier training request.
3. Different Views of Student Internship Assignments
1) Professional View (producing useful GIS projects and products through the internship program)
2) School Administrative View (it is satisfactory to the school or district if the students can learn GIS skills and knowledge and can do some meaningful hands-on GIS projects through the internship program)
3) Extra Curriculum View (it is helpful if the students can use some GIS knowledge and skill to engage some STEM inquiries in the context of their communities)
4. Strategies / Models of Spreading GRACE Internship Program
The percentage of the past GRACE interns and the current GRACE intern trainees who completed or will complete all 8 required courses before internship assignment and who worked or will work in a work-site setting is about 25 – 35 percent. One experiment we can try in the final internship year (2018 Summer) is to reduce the before-internship training requirement from 46 hours to 15-19 hours. The purpose of reducing the initial required training hours is to encourage more students to complete the required training and to have more teachers to be interested in serving as internship champions, who will recruit and help the internship registrants to complete the required training.
For the purpose of spreading the internship across the State, we could consider supporting three types of interns:
1) Professional Interns (producing useful GIS projects and products through the internship program)
· Work at a work-site;
· Complete the remaining required technical training either at the first week of the internship, or during the internship weeks, or using any time before the end of the internship;
· Receive $1,200 stipends when completing the internship assignments as well as submitting the certificates of all training modules.
2) Hybrid Learning-Professional Interns
· Work in school computer labs;
· Work on meaningful hands-on GIS projects that are asked or supported by GIS professionals or by community agencies or industries;
· Complete the required technical training either at the first week of the internship, or during the internship weeks, or using any time before the end of the internship;
· Receive $1,200 stipends when completing the internship assignments as well as submitting the certificates of all training modules.
3) STEM Practice Interns
· Work in school computer labs or community organizations/agencies on GIS inquiry projects designed jointly by internship teacher champions and community partners;
· Receive $1,200 stipends when completing the internship assignments and, also, as well as submitting the certificates of all training modules; or
· Receive $320 stipends when completing the internship assignments, including creating story maps of the projects, but not going to complete all required professional GIS internship training modules.
Our future research must be based on models that characterize these community clusters as complex systems, with multiple overlapping “environments”, multiple causal strands, divergent outcomes, recursive/nonlinear causal relationships, and emergent processes.
Impact on other disciplines:
The GIS/T tools and datasets were taught and applied beyond the disciplines of geography and earth science, where GIS programs have been traditionally housed. Through the GRACE project, GIS/T datasets and analyses have been applied in all school disciplines, including, biosciences, geosciences, mathematics, physical sciences and social sciences. More than 70% teacher participants came from various science disciplines.
Impact on human resource development in science, engineering, and technology.
92 high school students participated in the Summer Internship Program 2017. They applied their GIST skills in the GIS projects in the afore-mentioned departments and agencies:
Many of these GIS projects contributed to connect science with schools and enhanced the participants’ hands-on skills as well as knowledge in science, engineering, and technology.
Impact on physical resources that form infrastructure, including physical resources such as facilities, laboratories, or instruments:
Impact on institutional resources that form infrastructure:
Impact on information resources that form infrastructure:
Impact (or is likely to make an impact) on commercial technology or public use:
The products from the GIS projects that 92 high school student interns completed had direct contributions to the sponsoring city departments and agencies. These products were in great demand but these departments didn’t have sufficient human resources to distribute them as widely as desired.
Impact on society beyond science, engineering, and academic world:
92 high school student interns in 2017 Summer were from the economically disadvantaged and underserved communities in City of Detroit and around Calumet, Michigan Upper Peninsula. Without the NSF support and the GRACE project, these students would not have the opportunity to work on high-tech GIS projects and contribute to the information creation to support future smart decisions about their community economic development.
Executive Summary: The GRACE project did not encounter significant changes or problems, but we have identified a set of implementation challenges in terms of sustaining students’ interest in finishing the recommended ESRI virtual campus training for internship technical skills, matching the internship needs with intern training, finding funds to pay interns stipend and support personnel.
There were no significant changes or problems associated with the grant activities. However, we recognize that there are challenges that require more time, effort and funds than we initially estimated:
· Intern recruitment has gone faster than anticipated. However, the completion rate of finishing the recommended 8 ESRI virtual campus courses has been lower than expected. A number of students complained that it was boring and stressful to complete the virtual courses alone. The GRACE project considers restructuring the training courses by adopting newly available ArcGIS Pro based technical training modules. The restructuring will use modularized short courses (2-4 hours) instead of the current long boring and stressful ones (some over 20 hours), and organizing joint instruction team from GIS professionals, teachers and technologists, integrating real-world internship projects into the training, and having persistent and dynamic engagement throughout the internship training process.
· Students were recruited to participate in the intensive internship training through their teachers or the educational meetings or student events such as college-campus visits. Some teachers are more energetic than others. As a result, the internship candidates are not evenly distributed across the State, but concentrated in a few locations. In addition, where the internship candidates are located do not necessarily match with the locations where there are needs for GIS interns. These discrepancies in locations have caused additional challenges to place the interns.
· The GRACE project proposed a set of incentives for student interns, including the stipend, work-site experience, professional recognition, and job training. However, the option of paid internship with stipend is the sole form of incentive accepted by the students. However, the GRACE does not have a budget to fully sponsor the internship ($1,200 per intern). The seed money the GRACE project has is around $450 and thus the Project is missing $750 per intern. As a result, the GRACE project has taken a flexible funding mechanism, and awarded the stipend according to the availability of funds in a local community. In other words, the amount of stipend was allocated based on the funds that we found at each site. Nevertheless, the lack of complete stipends for all interns has severely limited the flexibilities and options of the GRACE internship program implementation.
· We also learned that the mentorship from colleges students (graduate students in particular) was very useful to engage the high school student interns and to provide technical support to the K12 students needed in order to fulfill the internship GIS projects. It was particularly true in City of Detroit and the UP area. For instance, the city went through the bankruptcy recently. May city departments have no or very limited GIS expertise. In other words, there were no GIS professionals and GIS hardware and software in many of these city departments. The student interns had no support from the GIS professionals in these hiring agencies. Therefore, the interns relied on the graduate students from Eastern Michigan University for both technical support and spiritual encouragement. This was also truce to 13 interns worked in Michigan Upper Peninsula, where the graduate students from Michigan Technology University helped the student interns dramatically. The challenge was that the GRACE project did not have this line of budget to provide technical support from college graduate students to K12 student interns, which caused financial stress to the GRACE project.