NORFOLK, Va. - Students and teachers from Norfolk Christian Lower School geoprocessed data with employees from Norfolk District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to recognize GIS Day.

Celebrating the technology of geographic information systems on Wednesday, district scientist Kaylyn Duda and Catherine Galway, a Pathways Program biology student, introduced the students to Mobile Awareness GEOINT Environment - an application that allows users to create tagged field reports and observations containing media such as photos, videos and voice recordings.

The GIS Day outreach also aimed to increase awareness of district STEM use.

Duda explained how science, technology, engineering and math skills interact with MAGE to assist in projects such as Virginia Beach Hurricane and Storm Damage Reduction, as well as identify mosquito blooms on Craney Island - a dredged-material placement site used by the district in Portsmouth, Virginia.

"We'd like to help the students better understand the technologies being used around them," Duda said. "This is important for the GIS field, but also for the community as a whole."

MAGE was originally created to assist first responders in disaster situations. It uses geospatial data layers, including map tiles and vectors, which can be stored on mobile devices. Collected data remains available for sharing with teammates - even during a loss of network connection.

"The students seemed to really be involved and interested," said Galway. "It's great to be a part of something that impacts their experience with the same technology the district uses."

Student teams roamed a designated area with app-loaded mobile devices, collecting data and garnering associated media. Afterward, that information was compiled by Duda to form a complete report of their findings through a web map.

"We could go and tag areas and really describe the spot with pictures," said fifth-grader Brynn Geddes. "Then we got to see all the spots each of the teams tagged combined on one map. It was cool."

The project offered students a glimpse at the possibilities of this technology, and perhaps their future careers.

"Demonstrating the importance and impact of geospatial technology could inspire students," Duda said. "We're here in the midst of future scientists or engineers; we've planted the seed."