Teaching Portfolio

Open Street Map for Kids

Open Street Map for kids was one of the actions of the research project Meipi Asturias on the use of maps by social movements and citizen initiatives that continued to the Situation Room and a long series of projects of critical cartographies produced in the last years in Seville, the geopolitical territory of the Strait of Gibraltar, Venice and the Egypt-Gaza border. In the context of Meipi Asturias we organized during the summer of 2009 the International Encounter of Citizen Cartography, in which Open Street Map was one of the highlights. Open Street Map is the "free" map of the world that, like Wikipedia, is created and updated by volunteers.

With the subtitle Mapping Party: The adventure of maps, the Open Street Map for kids was developed during the 2010 Summer Camp of LABoral Center of Art and Industrial Creation and involved 20 children between 6 and 9 years. The objective of the activity was to transmit basic notions about the current art of cartography with digital media, and to carry out a practical exercise of "mapping" the area of recent urban transformation around the City of Culture in Gijón.

By external requirements the workshop was very compressed - three one hour sessions on consecutive days. Day one was dedicated to a theory class on maps and social responsibility, explaining the current state of the art in mapmaking from paper to digital. Day two was dedicated to fieldwork. In the third day, entitle "becoming a cartographer", the kids edited themselves the Open Street Map of the area of Gijón with our help as conductors.

The assessment of the workshop was very positive. The initial objectives of introduction to digital cartography and critical approach to geolocation technologies were satisfactorily fulfilled. As with free software, Open Street Map is very useful in educational terms. We have been pleasantly surprised by the feedback and learning ability of our young cartographers as well as the very good group dynamics that existed between them. Although OSM is a project with a certain gender barrier - with very few girls involved - in the workshop we did not see any difference in the interest shown in the activity by boys and girls, and some of them asked us to take them for more territories to map!

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