Fairbanks Celebrates Geography Awareness Week in Style
GeoFest, November 19th at the Wood Center
From the latest high-tech Google Earth and GIS programs to the low-techness of squishing “glacier goo” between fingers, the 2nd annual GeoFest appealed to young people and their parents.
Held in celebration of Geography Awareness Week and hosted by the UA Geography Program, a department of SNRAS, the event on Nov. 19 at the UAF Wood Center was based on the theme “Geography: the Adventure in Your Community.”
Nearly 20 exhibitors brought hands-on activities to help children gain a greater understanding of geography, “the study of the Earth and its people.” This involved everything from marine touch tanks to a very popular treasure hunt.
Earning stickers at each checkpoint, children traveled throughout the Wood Center, searching out rivers, caves, outer space, the boreal forest and even a sinkhole. After navigating through the course completely each child was awarded an inflatable globe.
The GeoBee challenge was another attraction appealing to a variety of ages. Questions such as this were asked:
“What is created when lightning suddenly hits the air, causing it to expand rapidly?”
thunder, rain, hail
Name the port in northern Italy that has a long history of shipbuilding and was Christopher Columbus’s birthplace.
Venice, Genova, Genoa
Winners were awarded globe basketballs and geography-themed books. The youngest winner of the day was 9 years old.
Research Professor John Bailey took children on a tour of Google Street View, employing a scavenger hunt idea. Users learned to navigate using panoramic views of streets around the world.
One of the jammingest activities was the OneTree creation station for birch knitting needles. Folks lined up all afternoon for a turn at causing sticks to evolve into useful implements. Another was the Georgeson Botanical Garden table where youths could make bird feeders from fir cones, peanut butter and seeds.
UAF graduate student Amy Rath brought shallow tubs of aquatic invertebrates, including sea sponges, starfish, anemone and freshwater bugs, for handling and examining.
Pearl Creek Elementary School fourth grade teacher Mary Maisch brought a huge 3-D map of Alaska her students made. The detailed relief map featured rivers, mountain ranges, parks, forests, cities and villages.
Iditarod and Yukon Quest champion Lance Mackey regaled families with tales from his time on the trails. Telling the children how much he loves the Alaska terrain, Mackey said he feels blessed every day. “It’s not all pleasant; it can be pretty lonely,” he said. Recalling unbearably cold adventures when he was soaked in icy water and other times when his dogs proved smarter than he was, Mackey kept the audience entertained with his true life adventures laced with a sense of humor.
“Mushing is my passion; it’s what I was put on Earth to do.”
Classroom visits November 14-18
Geography Awareness Week was noted not only at GeoFest but in 25 classroom visits throughout the school district last week. Volunteers took mapmaker kits of Alaska to fourth graders from Eielson Air Force Base to Pearl Creek. Working in teams, the students assembled the pieces into maps and highlighted the five regions of the state, noting two interesting facts about their region, adding the compass rose and legend.
After UAF student volunteer Jayme Ziemer worked with students at Badger Elementary School, she said, “The kids were really excited to work on their maps and had a fantastic response. The kids even shared some of their class cheers with me in celebration.”