—Planting a community garden; making a welcome map for newcomers to your neighborhood; or collecting trash in your area and making an art project with it are just some of the activity ideas for Geography Awareness Week 2011 — Nov. 13-19 — with its theme of "Geography: The Adventure in Your Community."
Established by presidential proclamation in 1987, Geography Awareness Week is an annual public awareness program to draw attention to the importance of geography education. Each year, more than 100,000 Americans take part in Geography Awareness Week activities.
Geography Awareness Week 2011 is being sponsored by the newly formed Geo-Literacy Coalition, whose founding council comprises CH2M HILL, Esri, the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation and the National Geographic Society.
"This year's Community Adventure theme explores community geography and promotes geo-literacy by showing that one can discover amazing new things, right in one's own backyard, just by using geographic skills and perspectives," said Danny Edelson, National Geographic's vice president for education.
Every year for Geography Awareness Week, National Geographic develops a set of fun activities on the year's theme to provide people of all ages with firsthand experiences of the value of geographic knowledge and skills. For 2011, National Geographic worked with the U.K-based group The Geography Collective to design a series of challenges and adventures called "Mission: Explore" that show how the geographic perspective can help people to understand their community better. The Geography Awareness Week website www.geographyawarenessweek.org lists the "missions" that individuals or teams of students, families or friends can do to explore their own communities anew through geographic eyes. For each mission completed, one earns points towards badges in geographic skills such as photography, storytelling, mapping and taking action.
The hub for Geography Awareness Week is its website, www.geographyawarenessweek.org. Site visitors can read and contribute to a Geography Awareness Week Blog-a-Thon, updated multiple times daily with commentary and multimedia features. They can download an activity booklet as well as a Geography Awareness Week poster from the site.
The website also features contributions from National Geographic and partner organizations such as Newspapers in Education, World Savvy and the National Council for Geographic Education. Educators and parents will find lists of recommended books, videos, geographer profiles and family-friendly activities. Resources are provided on how to host a local Geography Awareness Week event, such as a community festival or a Geography Trivia Night.
Speak Up for Geography
During Geography Awareness Week, the National Geographic Society is encouraging people to support geography education in U.S. schools by joining the public campaign "Speak Up For Geography: The 10,000 Letter Challenge." The goal is to send 10,000 letters to Congress in support of the bipartisan Teaching Geography is Fundamental ( TGIF ) Act by Nov. 19, 2011. A link to the Speak Up for Geography site and instructions on how to send a letter also can be found at www.geographyawarenessweek.org.
Geography Legislator of the Year Awards
A highlight of Geography Awareness Week 2011 will be the presentation of Geography Legislator of the Year awards to four members of Congress at an event on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday, Nov. 16. Being recognized by the National Geographic Education Foundation for their steadfast support for improving K-12 geography education in the United Sates are Sen. Susan Collins ( R-Maine ), Sen. Patrick Leahy ( D-Vt. ), Rep. Emanuel Cleaver ( D-Mo. ) and Rep. Tom Petri ( R-Wis. ).
Also attending the event will be 50 D.C. schoolchildren from Stuart Hobson Middle School and Cesar Chavez School for Public Policy. They will enjoy activities involving National Geographic's giant, basketball-court-sized traveling map of South America; MapMaker kits; and a photo booth.
About the Geo-Literacy Coalition
The Geo-Literacy Coalition is an alliance of organizations working to improve the preparation of Americans for 21st-century decision-making. The members of the Founding Council of the Geo-Literacy Coalition are CH2M HILL, a global leader in consulting, design, design-build, operations and program management for government, civil, industrial and energy clients; Esri, which develops the world's leading geographic information system ( GIS ) technology that enables organizations of all sizes in both the public and private sectors to take advantage of their geographic data; the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation, a nonprofit educational foundation dedicated to promoting the geospatial intelligence tradecraft and developing a stronger Geospatial Intelligence ( GEOINT ) Community with government, industry, academia, professional organizations and individuals whose mission is the development and application of geospatial intelligence to address national security challenges; and National Geographic.
About the National Geographic Society
The National Geographic Society is one of the world's largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. Founded in 1888 to "increase and diffuse geographic knowledge," the Society works to inspire people to care about the planet. It reaches more than 400 million people worldwide each month through its official journal, National Geographic, and other magazines; National Geographic Channel; television documentaries; music; radio; films; books; DVDs; maps; exhibitions; live events; school publishing programs; interactive media; and merchandise. National Geographic has funded more than 9,600 scientific research, conservation and exploration projects and supports an education program promoting geographic literacy. For more information, visit nationalgeographic.com.