Mapping competition highlights thermal stress in schools

Monday, 14 March, 2022

Mapping competition highlights thermal stress in schools

Heat exposure can negatively impact on learning, emerging evidence suggests.

This can include lowering “cognitive capacity under thermal stress”, and it also poses “significant health and safety risks to children.”

The School Microclimates Report, conducted by Associate Professor Dr Sebastian Pfautsch at Western Sydney University, has also found rising temperatures and the increasing frequency of extreme heat events across Australia pose “significant health and safety risks to children, yet little is known about thermal comfort of students and teachers in Australian schools”.

“Increasing summer heat represents a hazard for children,” Pfautsch said.

“Creating cool outdoor spaces in schools where children can learn and play safely during summer must become standard.”

In an effort to challenge students to come up with solutions and encourage a psychological identification to the geospatial industry, She Maps, a national social enterprise committed to breaking down gender biases in STEM fields, has launched the fourth round of its annual ‘How Cool is your School?’ competition.

Established in 2019, the Australian-first initiative encourages students to use satellite data to create a map meeting cartographic (mapping) conventions, and then calculate the percentage of green shade on their school grounds, with this map then forming students’ competition entry.

The She Maps ‘How Cool is Your School?’ competition is open to all students from Kindergarten (Foundation) through to Year 8, with prizes of DJI Tello drones awarded to individual winners in each school year level for the best map that meets cartographic conventions.

“We ask the students to map the amount of shade at their school to help bring the focus on sustainability and the importance of trees as a natural air conditioner in the school environment,” said She Maps Chief Executive Officer Paul Mead.

“The competition challenges students to come up with some solutions to maybe make their school a little bit greener and more of an inviting space to learn and play.

“The average percentage of shade found at Australian schools is approximately 20%; our goal is for this figure to increase to 30% by 2030.”

She Maps is an organisation committed to providing teaching resources and flexible learning programs to schools, including face-to-face incursions for students and online professional learning for teachers, to empower students with the skills of tomorrow.

“The How Cool is Your School? competition aims to get as many students engaged and learning mapping conventions from as young an age as possible,” Mead said.

“The objective of this competition is to establish student confidence, teacher capability and industry connection as part of a longitudinal approach to creating the future geospatial workforce. This competition is one of a number of initiatives supported through our ongoing partnership with The Surveyors’ Trust.”

She Maps is now appealing to the corporate sector, charity groups, philanthropists and the community at large to throw their support behind its How Cool is your School? competition.

Teacher registrations for round four of the competition open on Monday, 14 March 2022 and final entries will be accepted until 5 pm on Friday, 1 July 2022.

To enter the She Maps How Cool is Your School competition, visit:

Image credit: ©

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