CARENCRO — Students at Carencro High School in independent studies class have been spending their time lately hunting for trash around their campus.
"That's a lot of trash, we hit the jack pot," Dylan Istre said as the group walked outside.
Istre is a part of the Academy of Information Technology (AOIT). Open since 2004, AOIT has introduced students to career opportunities in today's digital workforce and equipped them with the skills they'll need to enter that workforce.
This semester, the class started using Geographic Information Systems (GIS). They're using the software to log where they find litter in their community.
"I say 'no it's not picked up yet,' then we take a picture of the litter," Istre demonstrates.
"They categorize it is as plastic, glass, paper base, or other. They also log if there was a receptacle nearby," Taci Credeur, their teacher, said.
Once inside, GIS shows them a bigger picture.
"You can use the clusters to see the specific amount of trash in the area," Istre said.
GIS is being used in several industries.
"It's basically trend data that's put on a map, so you can use it with crime scenes, you can use it with the oil field, you can use it with any type of data, that needs to be put on a map," Credeur said.
The students are not only using the technology to learn. They're a part of a much bigger program with Project Front Yard. Three other schools in Lafayette Parish are collecting data. Project Front Yard will then use the data to see how they can prevent these problem areas. The project is in coordination with the Baton Rouge-based non-profit, Global Geospatial Institute and local C.H. Fenstermaker & Associates, LLC.
Skyra Rideaux with Project Front Yard explained, "The students are tagging individual pieces of litter and TYPES of litter on a map to give us an accurate idea of where litter is accumulating and specifically what types of litter are located in different areas of our community. We will then take that data and publish on a 'litter heat map' and work to align government, business, and civic resources to better address the issues. We hope to scale the project in Q1 of 2020 and get an assessment of the issues in the entire parish."
"Hopefully with this we can show, hey pick up sometimes," Istre said.
AOIT will be hosting an open house in January, showcasing the students' work.