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2013-2014 GCE MyCOE Youth TechCamps Program

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Students Visit Sterkfontein Caves

The AAG’s 2013-2014 Global Connections and Exchange My Community, Our Earth Youth TechCamps Program provided thirty competitively selected high school students from across the United States and 90 of their counterparts in Bolivia, Panama and South Africa with the opportunity to collaborate in cross-cultural teams using geospatial technologies. Three ten-day TechCamps were held in Bolivia (La Paz), South Africa (Pretoria) and Panama (Panama City and Azuero) from June to August 2014, during which participants received orientation and training in the use of geotechnologies including online mapping, community GIS, mobile GPS and crowd mapping. Students utilized these technologies and worked together on group projects in which they developed creative ways to address sustainable development issues relating to Climate Change in each of these countries. Students also participated in local cultural activities and field trips during the TechCamps, forming unforgettable memories and friendships.

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Students Present Projects to President Juan Carlos Varela

Participants from the United States maintained a daily blog for each of the TechCamps on the GCE MyCOE Wiki Page, through which they shared their experiences with friends and family back home throughout the program. At the culmination of each TechCamp, students participated in TechTorrent sessions, where each cross-cultural team presented their youth-led projects in front of audience members including government officials and U.S. embassy staff from each of these countries, students, university staff, and invited special guests. These presentations can be found on the MyCOE YouTube page.

Field visits to Glacier Chacaltaya and the site of the Callapa Landslide gave students who participated in the La Paz TechCamp the opportunity to see climate change in action. In South Africa, a day in the Sterkfontein Caves near Johannesburg gave participants a new perspective on the history of humankind in Africa, while a safari tour provided everyone with a break from their hard work. Students who participated in the Panama City TechCamp visited the Panama Canal and had the opportunity to meet Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela, who attended the TechTorrent presentations. In her blog post, one student described the TechCamps as “an experience that I, and my 9 other friends, will never forget.”

Each TechCamp was led by an instructional team of professors, specialists, and professionals in related fields. Students were supported by Dr. Patricia Solis, GCE MyCOE Program Director, Astrid Nicole Ng, Marcela Zeballos, Candida Mannozzi, Dr. Niem Huynh, Matthew Hamilton, Nekya Young and Kelsey Taylor of the Association of American Geographers.

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Students on Glacier, Field Exercise at Huayna Potosi

The TechCamps were held in collaboration with the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés, EIS Africa, Afrispatial, the University of Pretoria, the Universidad Tecnológica de Panama and the Gabriel Lewis Galindo Foundation. Esri also provided access to and training in geospatial technologies for participants at all three TechCamps.

The GCE MyCOE Youth TechCamps program was implemented by the AAG with funding from the US State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Youth Division under the Global Connections and Exchange Program and under the partnership umbrella of My Community, Our Earth: Geographic Learning for Sustainable Development.

For more information on the GCE MyCOE Youth TechCamps, please visit http://www.aag.org/techcamps.