For children in Baltimore City elementary schools, this is kids’ stuff. Their answers come out of the growing knowledge of geography they’re acquiring in the “Globetrotters” program, now in its third year in 90 of the city’s public elementary schools. “The program is designed,” according to Dr. Sari Bennett of the Maryland Geographic Alliance which, in partnership with The Abell Foundation, is the sponsor, “to address a widely recognized problem — the lack of geographic knowledge among Americans. The whole idea is to get children so excited about map-reading that they go beyond geography to learn about the world.”
The program provides a large, full color map to each of the class rooms; curriculum calls for the teacher and the class to spend a few minutes every school day discussing whichever map the class may be focused on — United States, Europe, Africa, or the world. Here are typical daily classroom studies:
Tuesday — Deserts are dry, sandy or rocky places that are usually hot and sunny. Can you find a desert somewhere in western Utah? What is the name of this desert? (Great Salt Lake Desert.)
Wednesday — Your Cram map of the United States shows the location of the fifty states and the District of Columbia. However, if you look closely you can also find the names of the two major mountain chains located in the U.S. (Look for the big black letters turned on their sides.) Can you name these two mountain chains? Hint: One runs from Alabama to Maine and the other runs from Montana to New Mexico. (The Appalachian Mountains and the Rocky Mountains.)
The three best students from each class compete intramurally; one team of three of the best of the best then competes in a city-wide contest. Last year, Hamilton Middle school won; each of the victors received a trophy and $100.
Here are the answers to the questions asked at the beginning of the article: 1) Morocco and Algeria 2) Moscow 3) Lake Malawi.
The kids probably knew these answers — which is why The Abell Foundation salutes them, and all of the teachers who helped make the “Globetrotters” program a growing success.