West Lothian Council and the Developing Young Workforce West Lothian team worked with the Improvement Service’s Spatial Information Service to develop a proposal for a workplace placement focussed on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) related activities, centred upon geospatial data analysis.
A teacher work placement was hosted for a day in July 2018, which provided experience in modern business administration for a teacher from a local secondary school, successfully testing how a placement would fit within the daily activities of the Improvement Service.
In addition to supporting these teacher and pupil work placements, the Improvement Service has liaised with geospatial software providers ESRI UK, based in Edinburgh, to bring their educational training programme for teachers, in the ArcGIS software platform, to the West Lothian area.
The proposal focussed on three main activities: geospatial analysis, coding in Python and data research, guided entirely by the interests of the pupil.
The first pupil placement was a fourth year pupil from St Margaret’s Academy in Livingston who spent a week working with the Improvement Service in October 2018. Following guidance in the use of ESRI’s ArcGIS Online software through online tutorials and office mentoring (including the preparation of earthquake maps from live data), he quickly learned the basics of geospatial analysis and used these skills to review a map of vacant and derelict land sites across Scotland. The week concluded with an afternoon training session in the use of ArcGIS Online, run by the software provider ESRI UK at Deans Community High School, for the benefit of pupils and geography teachers across West Lothian.
The success of this placement has led to a second placement, with a slightly different focus, in November 2018. The second pupil was also a fourth year student, from Deans Community High School in Livingston. She followed a similar syllabus, but the focus this time was on the use of open-source software Quantum GIS (QGIS) although the same approach was followed in terms of online tutorials and mentoring. The week’s activities included a meeting with the GIS officer from West Lothian Council and more in-depth work on the vacant and derelict land dataset for West Lothian, this time digitising polygons. The student quickly progressed through online tutorials, creating a cartographic map of Japan and learning how to use coding-type queries to extract data and to join datasets together. The week-long placement also offered the opportunity to look at the use of coding language Python in data science (using Jupyter Notebook) and how games are created in Python using the MIT Scratch platform.