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Mapping missions for Welsh teens


All systems go for Welsh geographical information web pages.

A series of role-play missions to help youngsters understand and enjoy working with digital map data is revealed on a newly created section in Welsh of MapZone, a free, interactive website by Britain’s national mapping agency, Ordnance Survey.

GIS Zone is now available in the Welsh language and brings geographical information systems (GIS) to life for 11–16-year-olds.

Pupils can try their hand at stopping flood waters rising, learn how to manage a farm, and decide where to site wind turbines. The real-life scenarios show how vital GIS is in the modern world.

The GIS Zone section complements Homework Help, another area of MapZone, which is also available in Welsh and provides further assistance on geography activities for pupils aged 11 to 14.

The new website section is just one of a range of educational resources provided by the mapping agency that links to the national curriculum in Wales. Another educational initiative by Ordnance Survey has recently given free OS Explorer Maps to around 32,000 pupils in 206 schools across Wales.

“GIS is a combination of map data, information and the computer software used to analyse it,” explains Ordnance Survey’s Education Manager, Roger Jeans.

"This usually includes topographic features like contours, rivers or roads. Data relating to people and the environment can also be incorporated, as well as aerial or even satellite imagery.

“All this information can be difficult to comprehend, especially at an age when there are so many other things to learn about. That’s why we’ve developed GIS Zone – to make the subject clearer and fun at the same time.”

The website is aimed at Welsh teachers as well as pupils. It offers advice on how to cover GIS within the curriculum, lesson plans, activity sheets and a whole host of facts. It is an ideal educational tool for anyone wanting to know more about GIS and how it affects them.

Roger Jeans adds: "GIS is the invisible force that helps deliver pizzas to the right address, gives a realistic dimension to computer games and delivers text directions to mobile phones. It also helps businesses and public services to make informed decisions, plan strategies and cut costs by providing a real-world geographic context for projects.

“With the use of GIS now commonplace in both the private and public sectors, a good grasp of the basic principles can give youngsters a head start in later life.”

GIS Zone is split into four areas, making it easy to navigate and understand:
• GIS focus deciphers the mystery behind GIS in simple terms. In this section a step-by-step animated cartoon shows how GIS can be used to fight crime.
• GIS reality explains why it is important to learn about GIS, and how people are affected by it. Examples include deciding the best place to build a cinema and improving emergency response times.
• GIS missions put users’ new found knowledge to the test via a GIS simulator. Pupils can get interactive and become water board managers, developers or policy makers – all with the help of GIS.
• GIS schools gets GIS into the classroom, with help and advice for teachers to make lessons fun and educational.

GIS Zone can be accessed in two ways, directly via the education section of Ordnance Survey’s Welsh language website,; or via MapZone,


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