Nearly 1,300 area sixth-graders descended upon the Killeen Civic and Conference Center on Wednesday for the city’s annual GIS Day, a day the city’s geographical information systems project manager dubbed as Killeen’s “claim to fame.”

The event is held annually during World Geography Week to teach children about geography, being green and conservation, Colen Wilson said.

“(Geography week) is celebrated across the globe in about 120 different countries,” he said. “We’re the largest one in the world, meaning that for a single-day event, we have more kids come through than any other event in the world.”

Wilson, a self-proclaimed geography geek, said he hopes students leave the event with “a few gold nuggets of information that stick with them.”

“The task for the presenters is for them to create a booth that’s interactive, something that the kids can touch and really be hands-on with,” he said. “So, it’s fun for the kids, but they learn something, too.”

The event included several city departments, soldiers from Fort Hood demonstrating how they use GIS technology, emergency responders, Texas Parks and Wildlife employees and stations where students could use Google Earth.

Taegan Steinfort and Gabriel Sanchez, students at Union Grove Middle School, said their favorite booth was one about zombies. “Everything is neat; it’s nice to see how they do different things, but the zombie one was pretty cool,” Steinfort said.

Steinfort said she also enjoyed seeing how soldiers can gauge weather conditions in other parts of the world using GIS technology.

Another favorite for Sanchez was a large world map spread across the floor of the conference room.

“The map was really useful,” he said. “Now people just use their phones to figure out where they are going, but there with the map you actually have to know where you are and where you’re going. I thought it was pretty cool.”

Annika Farr, a Union Grove sixth-grader, said her favorite display was of a “big globe.”

“It was really neat because it was the globe with little satellites around it,” she said.

“They talked about all the different resources we have and all the satellites in space and how they’re used.”

Contact Natalie Stewart at or 254-501-7555

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