Geography Awareness Week 2007: In Review

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 Map of Asia courtesy of National
Geographic Xpeditions

It’s been over two weeks since “Geography Awareness Week,”
National Geographic Education’s capstone annual event honoring our favorite
topic. Now that we’ve all had some time to allow the adrenaline to wear off, let’s
reflect on the events that made November 11-17 a success.

Passport to Asia
The 2007 theme was Asia,
and this year we pulled out all the stops: Geo-stops, that is. Building on the
success of the GAW 2006 Google Earth Africa Quiz, we went wild in 2007 and developed not only another interactive KML
quiz, (the “Extreme Asia Challenge) but five additional KML geo-tours. Oh yeah,
and an enlightening, Asia-focused
instructional video on the amazing geospatial technology that is GIS.

Speaking of going Wild, did you dig the awesome Wild Chronicles footage in the
“Asian Safari” tour? I’ll admit, I had never seen the National Geographic-supported
program prior to its incorporation in the tour, and I’m a newly devoted fan–I’ve
been watching clips on You Tube ever since (My favorite is “Hornet Hunters”: Like honey? Try hornet terriyaki). If you missed “Asian
Safari” or any or the other tours, don’t fret: Your Passport is far from expired. So dust off your virtual compass and
come explore Asia!

Many thanks to our coalition members that helped to develop the
content for these programs: Asia Society, ESRI, Google Earth, and the Smithsonian
Freer and Sackler Galleries. I profiled the former two during Geography
Awareness Week, and I’d like to now direct you toward the resources provided by
our other partners. The Smithsonian is currently featuring an exhibit called “Patterned
Feathers, Piercing Eyes: Edo Masters from the Price Collection
” in their
museum on the National Mall, and has additional Asia information available online at And did you know that Google has a special
page with activities for educators, including
creative applications of Google Earth? Add
these sites to your list of geo-stops as you continue the journey across Asia’s physical and cultural landscapes this year.

Massive Map Give-away
What better reminder is there to “think globally” than to
look at a big ‘ole map of the world—each and every day? That was the rationale
behind our “massive map give-away.” Thanks to National Geographic Explorer, we provided over 8,000 world
maps to D.C. area students and teachers. And we even threw in our “We are not
alone” PSA posters as an additional reminder that there’s a big, wonderful
world out there beyond our national borders. With the help of National
Geographic Xpeditions, we were able
to include an expansive set of standards-based, map activities for various
grade levels on the blog. The map
give-away was an especially rewarding project for us as part of our continuing
efforts to provide educators with geography resources (check out our ongoing Donors Choose Challenge). We’re hopeful about the prospects to expand
these programs to other regions of the country in future years.

World Ball Night
You won’t find too many regular-season games that rival
“World Ball Night” in excitement–and I say this as a college cheerleader who’s
participated in literally hundreds. The November 17th event at George Mason
University was undeniably
a success. Some stats over which to ruminate: More than 7,000 fans attended the
game, approximately 3,000 world maps were distributed, 100 youngsters received
globe basketballs, and 30 local students participated in the half-time event on
two of the world’s largest maps of Asia. The
inside scoop from Coach Larranaga is that World Ball Night could become a model
event for the NCAA to spur community involvement and demonstrate commitment to
developing well-rounded student-athletes–at every stage of the game of life.
Of course, we would love to see sports crowds getting pumped about geography
from New York to California!

Thanks once again to NG
, NG Explorer, George Mason
, GeoEye, and the Virginia and D.C. geographic alliances for their help in making this a memorable
evening. Be sure to visit George Mason’s brand new “World Ball” site for
footage from the game and more on the World Ball Project. And don’t forget to
take the “Coach L Quiz”—the deadline has been extended to December 18th!

Celebrate geography
365 days a year

Just because Geography Awareness Week has come and gone,
doesn’t mean the fun and learning has to stop. The My Wonderful World
Campaign was created to encourage people to expand their horizons all year
long. So join the Campaign to
receive tools and tips on how to incorporate geographic thinking into your
daily activities. We think you’ll find it’s easier than you’d expect—and invaluable!
After all, global knowledge is the gift that keeps on giving.

Sarah for My Wonderful World


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