One of those students is Margaret Justus, a senior at E-Stem charter school in Little Rock. Justus and a dozen other students were at EAST Initiative's West Little Rock campus Monday, getting some first-rate training in geospatial mapping.
It's an incredibly detailed exercise, exploring relationships between complex data sets and geography, but Justus and her classmates seemed to pick up on the new technology. Definitely not your average classroom experience.
"They're looking at spatial technologies, and what students have access to spatial technologies and mapping?" said Dr. Angela Kramers, a spokesperson for EAST Initiative "And they apply it."
The specialized training session was no simulation. Kramers says the students were using the same commercial-grade software utilized by geospatial professionals. And access to the data set would have cost a private company tens of thousands of dollars.
Most importantly, students are required to use their developing skills to help others.
"They actually go into their communities," Kramers said, "they find real problems and use this technology to find solutions."
Justus and a classmate are working to develop a map people can use to find locally-grown produce. It's not a far cry from what the senior would like to do for her career.
"I want to do city planning and environmentally-friendly planning of cities and regions," Justus said. "...things that are extremely relevant and help the community."
Kramers with the EAST Initiative students in Arkansas have completed service projects worth $15 million.