HAMPSTEAD — Students at Hampstead Academy had the opportunity to explore Africa in a big way recently — with the world’s largest map of the continent.
The map, measuring 35 by 26 feet is designed as a geo-game board to introduce students to the power of maps and the diverse geography of Africa. It was at Hampstead Academy as part of National Geographic’s Giant Traveling Maps program, organized by National Geographic Live, the public programming division of the National Geographic Society.
The map’s brightly colored, smooth vinyl surface accurately illustrates Africa’s oceans, seas, rivers, mountains, countries and capitals. Designed for grades K-8, the map comes with a trunk full of accessories, including interactive activities and props and photo cards that teach students about the physical characteristics of the continent, as well as its rich history, marvelous wildlife, and varied cultures. Working in teams, students marked the equator with ropes to learn about climate and latitude. A relay race helped them learn all the countries; scavenger hunts and safaris introduced them to the continent’s famed wildlife and varied environments.
“Children have a whole new perspective on Africa after they’ve walked on this map,” said Dan Beaupré, director of education partnerships for National Geographic Live. “The hands- and feet-on experience brings the geography of Africa to life in a meaningful way and helps the students understand the connections between people and places.”
The map was first featured as a standard pull-out map in the September 2005 issue of National Geographic magazine, a special issue devoted entirely to Africa. National Geographic’s map division enlarged the map — the biggest map ever created by the Society — for educational tours through National Geographic Live.
Since the introduction of the original Africa map in 2006, the program has expanded to include maps of Asia, North America, South America, Europe and the Pacific Ocean. Each map measures approximately 26 feet by 35 feet and is rented to schools and other hosts with an assortment of activities. In the 2013-2014 school year hundreds of thousands students will interact with these maps.
To learn more about the Giant Traveling Map project, for borrowing information or to download map activities, visit nationalgeographic.com/giantmaps.