WASHINGTON (Oct. 26, 2011)—Students around the country will dive into the wonders of the Pacific Ocean this fall with one of the world’s largest maps of the world’s largest ocean. The map, measuring 26 feet by 35 feet, gives student explorers a fun, interactive experience through rich content and exciting activities that enliven the study of geography. Designed for grades K-8, three copies of the map will be touring the United States and be available for two-week and longer loans to schools and event organizers through National Geographic’s Giant Traveling Maps program, managed by National Geographic Live, the public programming division of the National Geographic Society. The Pacific Ocean maps and curriculum were developed and funded by two $1 million Oracle Commitment Grants awarded to National Geographic.
The brightly colored, smooth vinyl surface of the map invites students to explore some of the unexpected geography at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean: from the deepest place on Earth, the Mariana Trench, to the world’s tallest mountain, Hawaii’s Mauna Kea, which has its base on the ocean floor. Most of all, students will experience the Pacific as a living entity, with active volcanoes giving birth to new islands, deep sea vents supporting new life forms, phytoplankton blooms providing over half of the planet’s fresh air, and the Great Barrier Reef, the largest living structure in the world.
A set of fun, content-rich activities accompany the three touring maps to each location: “Cities in the Sea” invites students to explore the extraordinary biodiversity of four reef ecosystems; “The Deep & the Dark” simulates for students the depth of the Mariana Trench and 15 other ocean floor trenches; and “Ocean Commotion” allows students to travel the ocean surface along the paths of eight major currents, finishing in the middle of the Pacific garbage patch, where they learn about human impacts on ocean health. Also accompanying the maps are lavish photo cards of animals and plants, hand-held models of volcanoes and colorful coral reef replicas.
“We are excited to share this new map with audiences around the United States. Maps of this size are a powerful medium for helping young people relate to the world,” said Dan Beaupré, National Geographic’s director of education partnerships for National Geographic Live. “We believe these giant Pacific maps will be an effective tool for creating responsible stewards of our planet.”
“The Giant Traveling Maps program is an innovative way to engage and inspire students to learn about science and the world,” said Colleen Cassity, executive director of the Oracle Education Foundation and Oracle Giving & Volunteers. “Over the past three years, we have awarded National Geographic two grants to support their science and environmental education efforts. We are proud to support the launch of the new map as part of this effort.”
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, South America, Asia and now the Pacific Ocean. It is estimated that more than 400,000 students will interact with one of these maps in the 2011-2012 school year. In addition to school venues, the maps appear at museums, festivals, fairs and corporate and educational conferences. The maps also reinforce National Geographic’s commitment to increasing geo-literacy through teacher professional development, K-12 curriculum, live events and academic competitions.
To learn more about the Giant Traveling Map project, for borrowing information or to download map activities, visit www.nationalgeographic.com/giantmaps.
ABOUT NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY
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 60 million people each month. The National Geographic Channel reaches 370 million households in 34 languages in 168 countries. National Geographic Digital Media receives more than 15 million visitors a month. National Geographic has funded more than 9,600 scientific research, conservation and exploration projects and supports an education program promoting geography literacy. For more information, visit www.nationalgeographic.com.
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