REDLANDS, Calif., Feb. 5, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The State of Maryland has signed a statewide software license agreement with Esri to make geographic information system (GIS) technology available for all K‑12 classrooms and formal after-school programs. This agreement marks another step for the state as it expands its efforts to develop science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)-proficient students with the ability to pursue postsecondary study and careers in these fields. (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20110425/LA88950LOGO) "States want all students to build skills in integrative thinking, analysis, problem solving, and communication, and GIS fosters these," says Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri's K–12 schools solutions manager. "Many businesses and government agencies in Maryland use GIS to solve problems, and now all kids, educators, and administrators can as well." As early as elementary school, students need to engage in applied STEM-related projects to begin the development of their technological knowledge and skills. GIS software is an important tool for these projects because it can help students answer complex questions, investigate global issues, and solve challenging real-world problems. "We have a project funded by the Maryland State Department of Education to develop elementary STEM education training for teachers," says Stewart Bruce, GIS program coordinator at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, and administrator of the state license. "Free access to GIS for all elementary and secondary school classrooms and formal after-school programs will help us achieve our goals to increase STEM-related education. It will also be a very useful resource in our environmental projects." Bruce has set up a website for Maryland teachers interested in requesting GIS software or learning more about it at http://www.washcoll.edu/centers/ces/gis/esri-k-12-software.php. A web-based GIS curriculum for elementary and secondary schools is also available on the site. For more information about Esri's educational licenses, visit esri.com/Industries/k-12/education/licenses. About EsriSince 1969, Esri has been giving customers around the world the power to think and plan geographically. The market leader in GIS, Esri software is used in more than 300,000 organizations worldwide including each of the 200 largest cities in the United States, most national governments, more than two-thirds of Fortune 500 companies, and more than 7,000 colleges and universities. Esri applications, running on more than one million desktops and thousands of Web and enterprise servers, provide the backbone for the world's mapping and spatial analysis. Esri is the only vendor that provides complete technical solutions for desktop, mobile, server, and Internet platforms. Visit us at www.esri.com. Esri, the Esri globe logo, GIS by Esri, ArcGIS, www.esri.com, and @esri.com are trademarks, registered trademarks, or service marks of Esri in the United States, the European Community, or certain other jurisdictions. Other companies and products mentioned herein may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective trademark owners.