Students to explore with giant map
Published: Thursday, May 8th, 2014
Students at Custer Elementary and Hermosa School will explore Africa in a big way the next two weeks—with the world’s largest map of the continent. The map, measuring 35 feet by 26 feet, is designed as a geo-game board to introduce students to the power of maps and the diverse geography of Africa. It will be at Custer Elementary School from May 12-15 and Hermosa School May 19-22 as part of National Geographic’s Giant Traveling Maps program organized by National Geographic Live, the public programming division of the National Geographic Society. The map’s use in Custer County is subsidized through a grant from South Dakota Geographic Alliance.
The map’s brightly colored, smooth vinyl surface accurately illustrates Africa’s oceans, seas, rivers, mountains, countries and capitals. Designed for grades K-8, the map comes with a trunk full of accessories, including interactive activities and props and photo cards that teach students about the physical characteristics of the continent as well as its rich history, wildlife and varied cultures. Working in teams, students will mark the equator with ropes to learn about climate and latitude. A relay race will help them learn all the countries; scavenger hunts and safaris will introduce them to the continent’s wildlife and varied environments.
“Children have a whole new perspective on Africa after they’ve walked on this map,” said Dan Beaupré, director of education partnerships for National Geographic Live. “The hands- and feet-on experience brings the geography of Africa to life in a meaningful way and helps the students understand the connections between people and places.”
“We are excited for the opportunity to partner with Mary Claire May in hosting the National Geographic Traveling Map to our school,” said Michelle Watland, Custer Elementary guidance counselor. “Principal Heather Hiltunen has been working with May to make this a wonderful, collaborative project for our students and National Geographic and the South Dakota Geographic Alliance.”
Watland has been focusing on Africa throughout the year.
“You may remember the article in The Custer County Chronicle about Nkungi village in Tanzania. Our students have learned about how life is for their fellow students in Africa.”
May will present lessons for the children with Custer Elementary physical education instructor, Joey Kortemeyer.
“We will focus on Africa and, in particular, Tanzania and the village of Nkungi, which is very remote and sits in the shadow of Mt. Kilimanjaro. We see this as one more way to relate and understand fellow students all around the world,” Watland said.
Custer Elementary sixth grade teacher Teresa Fiala and her students are also focusing on Africa in their social studies curriculum. They are designing African masks and African necklaces.
“All of these events will culminate in the meal packing event at the end of the week that we host the traveling map,” Watland said. “Mrs. Kortemeyer is working on plans to illustrate how our students in Custer are reaching out to fellow students in Africa, not only learning about geographic literacy, but also with the 10,000 meals that will be physically packed here and shipped directly to the village of Nkungi.”
Hiltunen said she is delighted for this opportunity for both her students and staff to have this “hands on/feet on” learning opportunity.
“We look forward to this exciting week of learning here at Custer Elementary,” Hiltunen said.
The map was first featured as a standard pull out map in the September 2005 issue of National Geographic magazine, a special issue devoted entirely to Africa. National Geographic’s map division enlarged the map—the biggest map ever created by the society—for educational tours through National Geographic Live.
Since the introduction of the original Africa map in 2006, the program has expanded to include maps of Asia, North America, South America, Europe, and the Pacific Ocean. Each map measures approximately 26 feet by 35 feet and is rented to schools and other hosts with an assortment of activities.
In the 2013-14 school year hundreds of thousands students will interact with these maps. In addition to school venues, the maps appear at museums, festivals, fairs and corporate and educational conferences.
To learn more about the Giant Traveling Map project, for borrowing information or to download map activities, visit nationalgeographic.com/giantmaps.
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