Volunteers train for Geography Awareness Week
With Geography Awareness Week (Nov. 13-19) rapidly approaching, the UA Geography Program staff have been busy preparing for in-school visits and two events. This year's theme is "Geography: The Adventure in Your Community."
Throughout the week of Nov. 13-18 volunteers representing UAF School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences will visit over 20 fourth grade classrooms in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District, taking an activity centered on creating maps of the five regions of Alaska. The lesson will go hand in hand with the textbook, "Alaska: A Land in Motion."
"We hope to increase the teachers' and students' interest in geography," said Katie Kennedy, education and outreach coordinator for the geography department. "I want them to see that geography is fun and to understand the need for geography education."
On Oct. 28, Kennedy worked with 20 volunteers to prepare them for the school visits. The volunteers are UAF students majoring in geography or education. Several are graduate students.
Christine Butcher, who volunteered last year, returned to help again. "It's fun talking to the kids; they get very excited," she said. "As a kid I knew nothing about geography. I didn't even know where anything was and now it is my major."
Kennedy said geography helps people understand the Earth and "the whys of what is there." While it is easy to assume geography is all about maps, they are only a part of the discipline, yet a very important part. "Map-making is a huge part of geography," Kennedy said. "Maps are a way to see information in a simple, visual way."
Teachers will be encouraged to help their students work on the missions of Geography Awareness Week, provided by National Geographic Education Programs.
Geography Awareness Week was established by presidential proclamation in the United States in 1987 and is organized by National Geographic Education Programs. Each year more than 100,000 people participate in GA Week through activities, events, lessons, games and challenges.
In Juneau, a celebration called GeoFest will be held Nov. 12 at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center and on Nov. 19 GeoFest will be at the UAF Wood Center in Fairbanks from 1 to 4 p.m. Community organizations will present fun and educational activities for children. Contact Wanda Tangermann for details.