Where in the world is Daisy, Md.? Test your knowledge of the state's geography from her mountain peaks to the Chesapeake

September 30, 1991|By Linell Smith, Will Hylton and Jean Thompson -- Evening Sun Staff.

On WHAT island did the Ark and the Dove land? Which county is proud to have Maryland's tallest peak and largest lake? Can you find Harmony, Maryland?

And why is it important to know? Getting to know our piece of the planet helps us understand how it has influenced our history, culture and identity as Marylanders. It also gives us a foundation for understanding how our actions affect the environment, say social studies teachers. But geographic education has been sliding off the map.

"The level of geography literacy in the United States reached rock bottom a couple of years ago," says Barbara Fallon, spokeswoman for the National Geographic Society. In 1988, American young adults ages 18-24 scored 10th out of 10 countries' adults in a test of basic geographic knowledge. Last year, the U.S. Department of Education reported that American teen-agers correctly answered only 57 percent of the multiple-choice geography questions in a quiz administered in a survey.

What's being done about the problem now? World events are renewing and fueling demand for better geographic education: It's hard to keep up as new nations form.

When it comes to world geography, says Bob Hernandez, who recently led Baltimore-area listeners of B-104 radio station in a call-in geography game, "We no longer need trivia, we need substantial information." Hernandez' new "Geografacts: the Game of the World" had to be pulled from its production run and revised recently when the Baltic states left the Soviet Union.

Game makers aren't the only ones getting on board.

"I think we are beginning to see signs of improvement" in geography teaching, says Fallon. Educators are looking for ways to make geography fun. The Maryland Geographic Alliance has been founded to encourage teachers to share successful methods, she says.

It's often suggested that the place to begin is at home. So test your knowledge of Maryland geography with these questions provided by social studies teachers Robert Flater of Dumbarton Middle School and Larry Strader of Loch Raven Middle School. Also contributing was Brooke Harding, a reference librarian at the main branch of the Enoch Pratt Library.

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