LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - One group is taking the Swine Flu seriously and they aren't doctors. It's a high school class project at the Byron Martin ATC to track the virus across the Lone Star State.
NewsChannel 11's Ann Wyatt Little sat in the classroom this morning and has the lesson.
It was the last Geographic Information Systems class and students were still busy. There's no text book because students use real data to create visual maps. They have mapped hurricane damage, U.S. forest fires and their most recent project - tracking the Swine Flu.
"You can just watch the expansion. The darker the county the more confirmed cases," says Coronado High School senior Tyler Funk. News of the H1N1 virus keeps him busy. "I'm just in awe that I can build the maps," he says.
"We do have a confirmed case of Swine Flu in Lubbock," says GIS teacher Penny Carpenter. She teaches her students to do more than just build a map. "When they can visualize and see it on a map, that's when the analysis begins," she says.
Carpenter says her students realized it was only a matter of time before Swine Flu hit Lubbock. "A few counties popped up and the kids realized it was moving west and coming our way. We knew we had Sweetwater and Snyder between us before it hit Lubbock," adds Carpenter.
For his final exam, Funk compiled all the information about the Swine Flu including confirmed cases and deaths and used software called ARC-GIS to turn in an updated map to Carpenter.
Funk teamed up with his dad, "I made a map of the confirmed counties in New Mexico using my skills," he said. His father is a physician and was traveling to New Mexico to several hospitals. "It's cool to help him know where the disease is so he can go prevent it," Funk adds.
"I think the students are realizing they have skills that are in demand and they truly could go down to a government office and bring a service," says Carpenter.
Funk says this most recent project has sparked an interest in the field and he hopes to continue building maps. News of the second confirmed case came late Friday afternoon so their final maps were slightly outdated, but Carpenter says this is a class project they could continue to follow.
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