The World at Their Fingertips: George Mason’s New Globe – Ball

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                                      photo by John Aronson

Spend an exhausting morning
chasing some of the nation’s most elite college athletes around a basketball
court, and you’ll most likely be hankering for a little grub. But if you’re a
participant at George Mason University Coach Jim Larranga’s summer camp, you have to answer a geography question first. Can you name the smallest
continent? If you thought Australia
like me, the abashed geography major, you’d have to wait for your slice of
pizza (correct answer: Europe).

A few weeks ago the team at My
Wonderful World traveled to George Mason University,
where we saw one of Coach “L’s” quizzes in action. An inspiring scene emerged as
a sea of kids in Air Jordans (fun fact: Michael Jordan majored in geography!)
thrust their hands into the air to answer geography questions.

A self-described geography
buff, Coach L has been administering quizzes at his basketball camps for years.
But it wasn’t until the media blitz surrounding Mason’s road to the 2006 NCAA Tournament Final Four that Dr. Allan Falconer, chair of GMU’s geography
department, learned of the activities occurring in the field house just next
door. A British native who describes himself as more of a “scholar” than an
“athlete,” Dr. Falconer recognized the unique opportunity before him and
promptly rang Coach L suggesting a collaboration. The unassuming coach and
infectiously enthusiastic professor teamed up to develop a remarkable product: the
World Ball.

The two enlisted the
assistance of National Geographic’s expert cartographers to create a
combination basketball-globe: a fully regulation, rubber-covered sphere with
the continents painted to scale on the surface. Last Wednesday, Coach L
distributed the balls to eager campers who had gained skills on the court and
on the map.

During My Wonderful World’s
visit to campus, we had a few minutes to chat with Coach L and Dr. Falconer
about potential activities with the World Ball. We are excited to continue to
work with these dynamic leaders to help give kids the power of global

To read more about the World
Ball, check out these articles appearing in the Washington Post and the
GMU Gazette.

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