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May 12, 2004

making maps

Yesterday, in the late afternoon, I was back on the streets of Hyattsville, MD, mapping the neighborhood by entering data into a Palm Pilot pocket organizer. This week, unlike last, we had a large group of high school students with us, as well as five adults. Even though it was as hot and humid as August, and even though there are no sidewalks on many of the busy roads, we managed to cover some ground and enter a lot of data into our organizers.

We have also collected data on about 50 kids--where they live, what they eat, where they get their food, and how and when they exercise. In addition, we have general Census data on the neighborhood. What we need at this point is a strong research hypothesis about the relationship between urban form and healthy behavior. We could continue collecting street-level data about types of businesses, sidewalk and street safety, and residential housing for years. It has been good to map some areas intensively, because we've learned how to collect and manage data (and how to get kids safely from A to B). But we need to focus on some compelling issue or finding; otherwise, we're going to run out of motivation. Ideally, the kids would come up with this focus. We will certainly consult with them, but we have so little time with them that I'm afraid the adults are going to have to develop the main ideas. As soon as I get some time, I'm going to sift through what we've collected and look for patterns.

May 12, 2004 11:26 AM | category: a high school civics class | Comments


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