GPSEC Hosts VCSU Dashboard Project

A best practice of interpreting tabulated data is in visualizing the data using graphs and charts, and several of the projects at the Great Plains STEM Education Center rely on data-based communication. Moreover learner standards in math and science also herald the importance on students abilities to record, manipulate, graph, and interpret data.

Learning in STEM is enhanced when relevant problems are solved collaboratively, and with rural North Dakota’s experience with agriculture as commonplace, something the Center is ceasing on to tell the STEM story using geographical information as a centerpiece. Where is the corn grown, the barley, where are the livestock? were early questions that Instructional Designer Amanda Fickes answered by developing commodity maps for ND, SD, and MN as a part of the Ag Cab Lab project, which was no small task in itself, particularly when she began to overlay multiple layers to probe, for example, are livestock prevalent where soils are arid?

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Quickly Fickes found herself in need of a software engineer to help her with the maps, the pop-up balloons, and the information which included pictures that can be inset in the pop-up information that many of us have seen in Google and Bing maps. Fortunately for the GPSEC, Information Technology Professional John Boucha is there to assist with developing sophisticated mapping and graphing techniques that are open source, that is freely available.

But the word that the GPSEC had an advanced capacity at supporting data systems began to spread, VCSU Institutional Research Director Dr. Gregory Carlson being among the first to inquire on visualizing VCSU enrollment data – the result:

Moreover, the team developed a poster for this project for an AIRUM presentation in Minneapolis on November 7, 2015, and can be found as:

Please feel free to contact any of us with questions on the VCSU Dashboard project.


Professor of Physics, Director of Undergraduate Research, STEM Consultant, STEAM Practitioner