Monday, May 08, 2006

Location, location, location

I don't believe that geography is the be-all and end-all of education, but it's the second-most important topic that folks complain about when bemoaning the state of our schools (reading being the first). I love maps, but I think their beauty comes from using them to learn about the places they depict: why a culture moved from one place to another; how plants differ because of climate and in turn how people adapt to those differences; even how language is affected by location. The positions of California's mountain ranges and faults produced Death Valley and all its rich natural and human history, for example.

When I found out about Sheppard Software's online geography games, I immediately jumped up to try the most challenging versionof their States game (Level 9, "Cartographer")—drag, rotate, and resize each state onto a blank U.S. map. I missed 7 out of 50 states; in most cases, I had sized the state slightly too small and positioned it a couple of degrees off, but I had all 50 rotated correctly and basically in the right place.

They also have games on the state capitals and physical features.


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