ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - The National Geographic Society has granted Albemarle County Public Schools with a $50,000 grant to dig deeper into contemporary and historical challenges facing the world.
“The truth is a lot has changed before our eyes in the last five to 10 years, and so the idea was how can we have students revisit these places? This time we’re given them a geographic tool belt,” Chris Bunin, project leader and geography teacher at Albemarle High School, said.
Students in Albemarle County will have a unique experience documenting history.
“Our goal is that this grant will have an opportunity to be both personal and collective, that students will have a personal connection with them collectively. They’re going to develop something really robust and meaningful,” Bunin said.
Bunin says throughout the project, students will utilize technologies to map out history.
“We’re also going to leverage geospatial technologies - so interactive web maps, GPS units, digital media, 360 cams - and the students are going to help us create a community asset map,” Bunin said.
Social studies teacher John Skelton says students will learn more out in the field with this project than reading the textbook in the classroom.
“We want students to go out in the world and explore and be able to have the perspectives and the tools to be able to do that,” Skelton said.
Mae Craddock is a library media specialist at the Charter School, and says students will begin gathering information about the Downtown Mall, the University of Virginia, and the County Office Building this year.
“They will be documenting their own neighborhoods, their own workplaces, their own community,” Craddock said.
As streets and names of schools change, Bunin hopes this interactive map will explain to the whole community how landmarks can have very different meanings to different people.
“Multiple student perspectives are powerful, these are young minds. These are young minds that are still being inspired and growing. You get to see different points of views,” Bunin said.
The research is in its pilot phase, but this year some of the funds will be used towards bringing in scholars to speak with students on the asynchronous Fridays.