WASHINGTON (Oct. 12, 2010)—Students around the country will be exploring South America in a big way this fall — with one of the world’s largest maps of the continent. The map, measuring 35 feet by 26 feet and weighing 102 pounds, gives student explorers a fun, interactive experience through rich content and exciting activities that enliven the study of geography. The map, designed for grades K-8, will be available for two- to 14-week loans to schools and event organizers through National Geographic’s Giant Traveling Maps program, coordinated by National Geographic Live, the public programming division of the National Geographic Society.
The brightly colored, smooth vinyl surface of the map accurately illustrates South America’s oceans, seas, rivers, mountains, countries and capitals. Institutions using the map also are provided with a trunk of accessories that include interactive activities, games, books, videos and music that educate users about the physical characteristics of the continent as well as its history and varied cultures. Among the activities included with the South America map are “Cultural Geography Relay,” in which students use photos of festivals, music, crafts and sports to learn about the continent’s colorful and diverse cultural life; “Walkabout: South America,” which explores the numerous mountains, rivers, waterfalls and other geographic features; and “The Voyage of the H.M.S. Beagle,” which retraces the voyage of Charles Darwin along the continent’s coastline through excerpts from his journals.
“Usually only super-athletes can run across South America,” said Dan Beaupré, National Geographic’s director of education partnerships for National Geographic Live. “With the introduction of this continent to our expanding roster of giant maps, we look forward to educating a new class of geographic explorers, whether they be kids or kids-at-heart.”
National Geographic’s Giant Traveling Maps program was introduced in 2006 with a map of Africa created after National Geographic magazine’s 2005 special issue devoted entirely to that continent. Since then the program has expanded to include maps of North America, Asia and now South America. In the 2010-2011 school year it is estimated that more than 300,000 students will interact with one of these maps. In addition to school venues, the maps appear at National Geographic Live events around the country featuring explorers, scientists and journalists.
The maps also help showcase My Wonderful World, a multiyear National Geographic-led campaign to improve geographic literacy and to help students become more informed global citizens. The campaign (mywonderfulworld.org) is designed to improve the geographic literacy of young people ages 8-17 by motivating parents and educators to make geography more available and accessible in school, at home and in the community.
To learn more about the Giant Traveling Map project, for borrowing information or to download map activities, visit www.nationalgeographic.com/giantmaps.
The National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. Founded in 1888 to “increase and diffuse geographic knowledge,” the Society’s mission is to inspire people to care about the planet. National Geographic reflects the world through its magazines, television programs, films, music and radio, books, DVDs, maps, exhibitions, live events, school publishing programs, interactive media and merchandise. National Geographic magazine, the Society’s official journal, published in English and 33 local-language editions, is read by more than 38 million people each month. The National Geographic Channel reaches 330 million households in 34 languages in 166 countries. National Geographic Digital Media receives more than 15 million visitors a month. National Geographic has funded more than 9,400 scientific research, conservation and exploration projects and supports an education program promoting geography literacy. For more information, visit www.nationalgeographic.com.