WASHINGTON (Nov. 10, 2009)—National Geographic invites students, teachers and parents to explore the world through mapping during Geography Awareness Week 2009, Nov. 15-21. Continuously celebrated since its founding in 1987 by Congress, this year’s Geography Awareness Week features an online Blog-a-Thon, a series of local and national events and a new Web site (www.GeographyAwarenessWeek.org) that provides a broad range of opportunities for the public to get involved, including downloading a free National Geographic map of the world.
Geography Awareness Week 2009, with its theme of “Get Lost in Mapping: Find Your Place in the World,” will kick off on Sunday, Nov. 15, with a national launch event at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and National Geographic President and CEO John Fahey will attend the third annual “World Ball Night” college basketball game that celebrates excellence in academics and athletics and spotlights the importance of geography and global knowledge.
This year’s World Ball Night pits the men’s basketball team of the Mason Patriots against Dartmouth’s Big Green. Fans attending the event will view National Geographic’s Giant Traveling Map of Asia, watch local kids play a half-time scrimmage with Mason’s signature “world ball” basketballs (basketballs painted into globes), play global location quizzes based on spectacular satellite imagery from GeoEye and tour a map gallery showcasing maps made by local students.
The brainchild of Patriots head coach and geography enthusiast Jim Larranaga, World Ball Night is operated in collaboration with the George Mason geography department; it was awarded a bronze medal for single-day attendance by the National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators in 2007 for attracting 8,000 fans.
“Education outreach is an important part of National Geographic’s mission to inspire people to care about the planet,” said Fahey. “Geography is a critical component of a 21st-century education, and the Society is committed to giving parents, educators and students the tools needed to help kids understand their world.”
The Geography Awareness Week Web site offers students, teachers and the public access to games, activities and lessons about mapping. The site features contributions from National Geographic and partner organizations such as Google and ESRI. Visitors can learn about mapping at home and at school, as well as experiencing geospatial technologies and learning how to become “map activists.” Visitors can explore maps of all sizes, from high-tech to low-tech, and can download a free poster-size National Geographic world map for the bedroom or living room wall. Google Earth tours offer virtual interactions with fascinating people and places, and engaging videos explain how today’s geospatial revolution is changing everything from shipping to warfare.
The Web site also features opportunities to join nearly 100,000 geography supporters in becoming a “map activist.” A new “GeoMentor” program pairs geospatial professionals with local teachers and students to support real-world learning in the classroom. Resources are also provided on how to host a local Geography Awareness Week event, including a list of the “Top 10 Ways to Celebrate Geography Awareness Week.”
More than 35 bloggers from eight countries have joined a Geography Awareness Week Blog-a-Thon, which is updated multiple times daily with commentary and multimedia. The Blog-a-Thon also features a mystery location quiz, challenging visitors to identify satellite imagery for chances to win prizes.
The National Geographic Society, one of the sponsors of Geography Awareness Week, is one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. Founded in 1888 to “increase and diffuse geographic knowledge,” the Society works to inspire people to care about the planet. It reaches more than 375 million people worldwide each month through its official journal, National Geographic, and other magazines; National Geographic Channel; television documentaries; music; radio; films; books; DVDs; maps; exhibitions; live events; school publishing programs; interactive media; and merchandise. National Geographic has funded more than 9,000 scientific research, conservation and exploration projects and supports an education program promoting geographic literacy. For more information, visit nationalgeographic.com.