Students tour giant mapPublished 6:05am Saturday, September 15, 2012
PHIL CAMPBELL – Have you ever been to Mt. Everest?
Thanks to several different organizations and people, the students at Phil Campbell Elementary can officially say they have.
This past week, pre-K through sixth grade students – and a few high school students – got the chance to experience the giant traveling map of Asia, which is a large floor map that measures 26 feet by 36 feet when spread out on the floor of the PCES gymnasium.
Linda Spurgeon, who teaches geography to high school students at Phil Campbell High School, was responsible for finding out about the giant map program and getting one of the maps to travel to Phil Campbell.
“When I was attending an Alabama Geographic Alliance conference in June, they talked about the giant map,” Spurgeon said. “Since we participated in the conference, we got first pick of having the map come to our school.”
Spurgeon said the giant map was made possible through funding from the Alabama Geographic Alliance, the National Geographic Education Foundation and donations from supporters, so it doesn’t cost the school anything to house it for a week.
“This has been a really great thing for our students because they’ve been able to get hands-on experience with the world around them,” PCES Principal Jackie Ergle said.
“They’re learning about different cultures and different animals that live in these places.”
Ergle said the school’s librarian, Alana Swinney, has been conducting a unit on Asia that coordinated with the map’s arrival.
“This was good because the students were already familiar with the continent before the map got here,” Ergle said. “This map just reinforces what they’ve already heard in the classroom and lets them get a visual of what they’ve studied.”
Spurgeon said Ergle coordinated several volunteers from the elementary school’s PTO organization who came in to conduct the learning sessions with the map.
“There was a trunk full of lesson plans, games, activities and other material that you can use in coordination with the map,” Spurgeon said. “With the younger grades, we’ve mainly just stuck with the map ‘tour’ that walks them through several of the countries in Asia and gives them facts about the countries.
“With the older grades, we used some of the activities and games. That’s the great thing about this map is that it is adaptable. Even my high school students enjoyed getting out of the classroom and interacting with the map through games.”
Spurgeon said anytime they have the opportunity to participate in a program that gets the students excited about learning, they’ll always jump at the chance.
“We are very appreciative to have the map travel to our school and help our students learn more about the world,” Spurgeon said.
“And who knows – the kids have liked the idea of ‘climbing’ Mt. Everest so much that maybe some day one of them will actually go and do it.
“If this experience can get them interested about geography and the world around them, then it’s done its job.”