Teaching Location Analytics Through the Magic of Donuts

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Last week, I had the opportunity to visit my daughters’ school to teach kindergarteners and first graders about maps. It was the third year in a row, and as always, it was a blast.

So how do you explain locations analytics and geographic information systems (GIS) to young kids? The same way you explain it to adults: Show and Tell.

It’s a marketing skill that my kindergarten teacher taught me many years ago, and it continues to be the most effective way to explain how Datastory helps businesses make better decisions.

In class, I started by reinforcing their basic understanding of maps, which they’ve learned “tells them where to go and how to find things”. I then explained how maps can also help us make really big decisions. Our case study was finding the best spot in Maryland to open a Doggy Donuts shop. We mapped out the all the existing donut shops then added a layer showing household expenditures on pets. Combining those two individual datastories into one revealed a few great spots with a high potential for success.

Then I expanded the vision a bit more by showing all the creative ways maps are used for business, science, government services and emergency management. That exercise turned into what I call “Map Improv”, where someone throws me a concept or question, and I try to find a relevant example. It certainly tests my knowledge of Esri’s Story Map community. Here’s a few examples:

The highlight, though, was when I showed them where all the Dunkin’ Donuts where located, as evidenced by the 120 donut-shaped thank-you notes I received a few days later. To explore this map yourself, see What’s a Datastory? This.

(Donuts + Maps) x Kids = Fun With Location Analytics