The Arizona Geological Survey brought its technical expertise to a new arena in 2012 when it volunteered to head the Arizona Experience website centennial project. Designed to commemorate 100 years of statehood, the Arizona Experience is a free online reference showcasing the people, places, and events that defined our past and are shaping our future. Over the course of the year, the information specialists and digital cartographers at the AZGS have built a multimedia-rich portal into Arizona. Thousands of multimedia assets—current and historic photographs, audio and video music clips, oral histories, interactive maps and timelines, games, and more -- engage users of all ages.
The site is proud to feature over a dozen original interactive maps. Users can automatically play a timeline placing the state’s historical events since 1776, find the location of ancient volcanoes, or take a virtual tour of life at 15 historic mining camps. Created and hosted with open source technology, these maps push the boundaries of mapping technology. The Recreation and Cultural Sites Map is the most popular and widely released feature. Built in collaboration with the Arizona Office of Tourism (AOT) and the Arizona Council for Enhancing Recreation & Tourism (ACERT), this customizable interactive map lets you build a custom search for specific activities on more than 425 recreational, cultural and historic sites statewide.
Over the months, the Arizona Experience has become a site worthy of the centennial. Leading state agencies such as Arizona Fish and Game, the Arizona Department of Agriculture, and our three state universities have enthusiastically contributed expertise and material, as have Chambers of Commerce, small businesses, and individuals. A top priority is education. The Helios Foundation granted AZGS $50,000 to build educational material, and Microsoft granted $25,000 for a teacher contest that challenges educators to use Arizona Experience content in a lesson plan unit. Educators can use the Teachers Center to find lesson plans approved by the U.S. Department of Education, and videos made by Arizona educators. The Student Resources page offers a list of maps, timelines, games and videos that can be worked into a lesson or can give students a chance to learn on their own.
The Arizona Experience is a work in progress. The version that you now see was launched on February 14, 2012—the day Arizona celebrated its Centennial. In the first days of 2012, AZGS extension chief Michael Conway, public relations specialist Randi Belassai, and web developer Pam Barry-Santos teamed up with two new hires, graphic designer Stephanie Mar and content manager Rowena Davis to fulfill a very tall order: design and build a centennial web site to be unveiled on the state’s hundredth birthday, a date less than two months away! It was a race against the clock, but with most AZGS employees helping in some capacity and the talents of cartographer Janel Day, media liaison Jordan Matti, and graphics specialist Arnie Bermudez, the website was readied for release, with a plan to add content throughout the centennial year.
A number of the entries are still under development. The goal is to create a permanent digital resource that continues to grow in subsequent years and provides specific material for k-12 educators, in-state and out-of-state travelers, and the just plain curious.