GeoBus UCF Builds Momentum for New Adventures in 2024 

Looking back on 2023, GeoBus UCF accomplished a lot—both in Florida and internationally. We spoke with Associate Professor of Geographic Information Systems in the Department of Sociology and 2024 National Geographic Explorer Timothy Hawthorne, Ph.D. about these exciting accomplishments.  

A bus under a bridge.

Top Three GeoBus Highlights in 2023 

  1. Completion of the first year of a districtwide partnership with Brevard County Schools: GeoBus served Brevard County’s Title 1 Schools for full day school visits.  
  1. Empowering middle schoolers with Geospatial Explorer Insitute: GeoBus partnered with iSTEM for a UCF Summer Camp for 13 rising middle schoolers. Students from these schools spent a week with the team on campus and on the GeoBus learning in-depth knowledge on geospatial technologies.  
  1. Building a foundation for expansion to Belize in 2024: The GeoBus team worked with partners to bring GeoBus to life at the partner site in Belize in 2024. The team led discussions with the University of Belize, Hopkins Village, the U.S. Embassy in Belize and Ambassador Michelle Kwan and Ambassador Lynn Young from the Belize Embassy in Washington, D.C. “This will be the first GeoBus in Central America, and we are so thrilled to be leading these efforts with our partners across two countries,” shared Hawthorne. 

2024 Goals for GeoBus 

When asked about goals for this year, Hawthorne shared, “Our goals are to continue GeoBus visits throughout Central Florida, including continuing our partnership with Brevard County Title 1 schools. We also look forward to supporting City of Orlando Schools through our City of Orlando Mayor’s Matching Grant funding support. We also are thrilled to plan and launch GeoBus Belize with our partners.” 

“This project has been impactful for our students, staff, and our K-12 teachers, staff and partners. It’s a great example of what it means to be a campus without borders. Bringing a mobile science lab to schools excited about STEAM is such an incredible opportunity for us to show what science looks like and to show students that they have a place in science. This partnership-focused work energizes our entire team,” said Hawthorne. 

Three women sitting at a table looking at a laptop.
Britta Wilkersnon, Jamie Cota and Caisha Fermin working on lessons plans for use on GeoBus UCF and GeoBus Belize at the Smithsonian Field Station on Carrie Bow Caye, Belize. 

GeoBus Supporters: Making Dreams Come to Life 

The GeoBus team is grateful for the continued support from National Geographic Education. Their grant helped to provide staffing and technology support for the GeoBus school visits. They also supported Dr. Hawthorne with the title of 2023-2024 National Geographic Explorer, allowing him to fulfill a childhood dream. 

The GeoBus team is looking for new funding partners to support school visits and programming expansion.  

To help bring these dreams to life, please consider giving to our UCF Citizen Science GIS/GeoBus Foundation account here.  

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