CORVALLIS - Oregon State University is participating in "GIS Day" on Wednesday, Nov. 20, with a number of poster and map galleries, open houses and live demonstrations that illustrate the advances being made in geographic information systems.

There will be a special program for 100 middle school and high school students and their teachers, including a Geography Bowl competition, special videos, and a "GPS hike" across campus. Several OSU graduate students will make presentations at local high schools, and a Corvallis mobile mapping truck or emergency response vehicle using wireless GIS will be open for tours in the Memorial Union Quad.

Demonstrations of GIS technology in action will be available in Richardson Hall and Wilkinson Hall from 9:45 a.m. to 3 p.m. More information on events, schedules, maps and directions to campus can be found at the OSU GIS Day website at

These events, sponsored by the OSU College of Forestry and the Department of Geosciences, are free and open to the public.

GIS Day is held annually during the National Geographic Society's Geography Awareness Week, which this year is Nov. 18-22. It's a global event that celebrates geographic information science, a sophisticated use of geographic technology.

"A geographic information system is a computer-based mapping tool that takes information from a database about a place, such as streets, buildings, water features, and terrain, and turns it into visual layers," said Dawn Wright, an associate professor of geosciences at OSU. "Being able to see all of these features on one map gives you a better understanding of a particular location and enables planners and analysts to make informed decisions."

GIS touches peoples' lives every day, Wright said. It is used throughout the world to solve problems related to the environment, health care, land use, business efficiency, education, and public safety. This technology can help businesses place ATMs and restaurants at more convenient locations, allow people to pull maps off the Internet, and help farmers grow more crops with less chemicals.

GIS Day helps make the public aware of this technology and allows professionals in more than 80 countries to teach individuals and organizations about GIS benefits. More information on GIS Day is available at ESRI and Sun Microsystems, Inc., have also partnered to host the second GIS Quest! - a free, interactive web game that enables participants to experience GIS firsthand. Players can go to and visit GIS-powered web sites.

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Dawn Wright, 541-737-1229