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Summary report by Tarlan Razzaghi and Haritha Vendra


KidWorks LogoKidWorks is a community-based, nonprofit organization that provides after-school programs, tutoring, mentoring, health education, and parent involvement to low-income, at-risk youth in Central Santa Ana, located in Orange County, California. With the goal of empowering the youth with GIS education, KidWorks proposed a mission to teach the youth the basics of both ArcGIS Online and Desktop.  To support this mission, KidWorks requested the support of two GISCorps volunteers.


The mission involved the youth in two active KidWorks GIS projects:

  1. Santa Ana Health and Nutrition Advocates (SAHNA) – SAHNA planned a GIS project to map student meal participation and food access outside of schools.
  2. Youth for Active and Safe Communities (YASC) – YASC proposed mapping out city parks and recreation centers, school routes for skating youth, and places where skaters currently congregate to skate even though that location does not permit it.

As the selected GISCorps volunteers, we collaborated with each other and with KidWorks youth leader coordinators Emma O’Brien (SAHNA) and Maria Ruvalcaba (YASC) to schedule training sessions for the students during the spring and summer of 2018. We prepared the following tentative training schedule after our project kickoff meeting with the KidWorks coordinators in May (Figure 1).

KidWorks Training Schedule
Figure 1: KidWorks training schedule

Our goal was for the youth to achieve the following:

  • Learn and understand how to use GIS software and apps, how to create GIS data and maps, and how to conduct a spatial analysis;
  • Apply that knowledge for two current projects;
  • Use geospatial thinking to solve problems in the future; and
  • Continue their pursuit of GIS knowledge in the future within the majors that interest them.

GIS training sessions with the students were planned to begin from the second week of June 2018, soon after the youth started their summer vacation. The sessions included hands-on training with the students as well as presentations on the topics. The class structure was set up to include a PowerPoint for a lecture in the beginning and handouts for students to follow. Then, students were given hands-on exercises related to their project to practice in class (Figure 2).

Kidworks Story Map training session
Figure 2: A GIS story map training session

Based on the defined course syllabus, the PowerPoint slides for each session were prepared and emailed to the coordinators before each session. The course timeline was as follow:

  • Session 1: Introduction to GIS
  • Session 2: Introduction to ArcGIS Online and setting up ArcGIS Online user account login.
  • Session 3: Story Map & Creating Web Map; Making your first map
  • Session 4: Web Map and Data Collection Methods; Continuing the session on making a map; Adding data in ArcGIS Online; Symbology, labeling, queries
  • Session 5: Data Collection; Creating data: data digitizing from aerial imagery
  • Session 6: Collector App: Managing Maps on Collector (2 sessions); Data Collection in field using Collector – collecting point, polygon, polyline data with picture & video attachments; Uploading and downloading data
  • Session 7: Data Cleaning (2 sessions); Data Quality Control, Data Clean up; Introduction to Analytics
  • Session 8: Data Analysis (2 sessions); Buffer Analysis; Aggregate (summarize)
  • Session 9: Story Map; GoToMeeting session for SAHNA group

The youth were instructed on joining the KidWorks ArcGIS online organizational account during the first and second sessions. The lessons were designed to be common for both the SAHNA and YASC groups and were focused on relevant and local data for nutrition, skate parks, and schools so students could relate and learn easily. Collaborative data collection and analysis were planned for both groups using ArcGIS Online and the Collector App to facilitate the project workflows.

For the data collection, the students learned to use devices that they were already familiar with, such as their own smartphones. The data collection part of the projects was performed in multiple sessions. For the first two sessions, we accompanied the youth and leaders driving through the Santa Ana neighborhoods to collect data.

The SAHNA group collected a large amount of data on food trucks, grocery stores, restaurants, and liquor stores.

The YASC group collected data representing unsafe locations where youth skate and locations within public parks with the potential to be used for skate parks.

The lesson on data analysis was designed based on the objectives of the projects. We asked each group to prepare a list of the questions they would like to be answered by the data analysis, and then we customized the spatial analysis lesson in order to teach them how to answer their own questions.

The SAHNA group came up with a detailed work plan and a list of questions they were looking to answer through GIS analysis:

  • How many food trucks, liquor stores, fast food restaurants and grocery stores are in Santa Ana?
  • How many are within a 2 mile radius of schools?
  • Is there a correlation between amount of liquor stores/fast food/food trucks and students’ meal participation at schools?
  • Does target BHC zone have a higher concentration of unhealthy food options compared to other areas of the city?

The SAHNA group continued through the data cleaning and data analysis sessions. As a result of their effort, they created an informative story map in line with their project’s objectives. The following three images (Figures 3, 4, and 5) are screenshots of their story map. 

Screenshot of SAHNA story map
Figure 3: SAHNA Story Map – Introduction
Screenshot of SAHNA Story Map
Figure 4: SAHNA Story Map – Food Access Around Schools
Screenshot of SAHMA Story Map
Figure 5: SAHNA Story Map – Fast Food Restaurants Within 2 Miles of Schools

The YASC group did collect some of their project’s required data, but as school got started they could no longer participate in the training sessions.

We wish the best of luck to both groups at KidWorks and look forward to being of assistance on any of their future GIS projects.

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