All about EAST

February 28, 2008 Aidan Chopra

Last week, I spent three days in Hot Springs, Arkansas, attending the annual conference of the EAST Initiative. EAST (Environment and Spatial Technology) is a non-profit organization that works with schools around the US. It helps them implement programs that bring access to technology education to students who might not otherwise have it. EAST students have been using SketchUp for four years.

Most projects undertaken by EAST students are service-based, meaning that they benefit the student's communities. These projects might include modeling the county courthouse in SketchUp for the sake of historic preservation, using GIS software to create maps for local emergency services, or creating videos that raise awareness of important issues like teenage drunk driving. The work that EAST students do is impressive because it's important, and because it's almost always very well done.

The most interesting thing about EAST is that the curriculum is self-driven; students create their own lesson plans, decide which projects they'll tackle, and learn the necessary tools on their own. They're assisted by a teacher trained in the EAST process (called a facilitator), but otherwise, it's largely a student-led endeavor. Fans of project-based learning should be very happy about the work that these folks are doing.

Anyhow, we sponsor a SketchUp and Google Earth competition for EAST students who are using our tools. This year, there were no fewer than 38 entries, and virtually all of them were terrific. Here's a list of the winning students and their schools:

  • James S. - Pottsville High School | Project in the 3D Warehouse
  • Carlyn N., Brandon M., and Darnesha S. - Henderson Health Sciences Magnet Middle School
  • Josh G. and Mitchell R. - Nettleton High School
  • Rick M. and Zach B. - DeWitt High School
  • Christian K. - Magnolia High School | Project in the 3D Warehouse
  • Travis R. - Kihei Public Charter School

I'd like to thank and congratulate all of the students who participated in this year's competition. Take a look at these images of their projects. I'd say the future looks bright for the next generation of SketchUp users.

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