By Iuliana Petre

Killeen Daily Herald

In honor of National Geographic Awareness Week, the city of Killeen sponsored the third annual Geographic Information Systems day Wednesday at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center.

More than 1,200 sixth-grade students from across Central Texas participated in more than 15 interactive learning activities.

"We use GIS mapping in the parks and services department for engineering purposes and by the fire and police departments," said Hilary Shine, spokesperson for the city of Killeen.

She said the event exposes students to the many ways that geography applies in everyday life. It also opens "students' eyes to career paths and agencies that use GIS on a regular basis."

The session, which was the largest convention among Texas cities, welcomed students from the Killeen, Copperas Cove and Florence school districts and a private learning academy in Central Texas.

"We also bring in businesses from surrounding areas – Killeen, Cove, Belton, Temple. When the communities cooperate, the convention becomes a more regional one and brings students from throughout the area," Shine said.

The city of Killeen operated the Google Earth booth. The city of Copperas Cove ran a booth about recycling paper and how to make recycled paper. Texas' Parks and Wildlife operated a booth about its wildlife crime stoppers program.

Also attending the convention were representatives from Fort Hood's recycling center and range control; Keep Killeen Beautiful, an off-shoot organization of Keep Texas Beautiful; and Mitchell & Associates Inc., an engineering and surveying company in Killeen.

In addition to GIS, many of the exhibits at the convention center were focused around "going green" and the need to recycle.

Magician John Maverick, who put on an Eco-Show, focused his performance on the importance of recycling. Along with throwing out facts about the average family's waste disposal, Maverick threw in plenty of disappearing acts.

At other stations, students were asked questions about recycling. If they answered correctly, students won prizes such as pencils, pens, temporary tattoos and bracelets.

At one station, students used computers with the newest version of the Google Earth software to locate their homes, and maneuver through familiar and unfamiliar neighborhoods.

Contact Iuliana Petre at or (254) 501-7469.

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