Students to learn geography first-hand

May 17, 1993|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Staff Writer

Imagine how you'd feel if someone had just handed you free tickets for a three-week cruise to Rome, Naples, Malta and Tunisia.

Now, imagine how you'd feel if you were only in middle school.

Maybe Amanda Lesher and Robby Evans, eighth-graders at George Fox Middle School, could help.

"This is awesome," Amanda said. "I mean, we've learned about all of these countries in social studies. It will be interesting to go over and see what each one is actually like."

"I didn't think I had a chance of winning," added 13-year-old Robby. "It's like when you send something away for a cereal box contest, you don't normally win anything."

Amanda and Robby and their social studies teacher, Karen Muir, will spend three weeks this summer aboard the USS Kane as part of a program to encourage interest in science and geography.

"The frustrating thing about teaching geography is not being able to show the students what they're studying," Mrs. Muir said. "To be able to see things first-hand together would be the way I would love to teach geography -- just have a lot of field trips."

Mrs. Muir and the students filled out applications, but she didn't tell them they'd been chosen. Instead, they learned it during morning announcements along with everyone else at the school.

In addition to brushing up on their geography, the students will also be brushing up their photography skills. They will tour county schools in the fall to share their trip with others through a slide presentation.

Amanda looks forward to seeing the Mediterranean. "It's supposed to be very beautiful," she said. "I've been to Florida, but it's not the same."

The program they'll participate in is called "Marco Polo." It is sponsored jointly by the National Geographic Institute and the Navy. This year, six people from Maryland -- including a University of Maryland at Baltimore County professor and a Montgomery County teacher and her student -- and students and teachers from Georgia and Florida will participate.

For three weeks, from July 23 through Aug. 12, they'll travel aboard the USS Kane as it does oceanographic surveys.

"They're going to be having classes while we're on board, and the students will participate in the actual running of the ship. They'll be learning all kinds of different things," Mrs. Muir said. "It's all part of National Geographic's effort to give geography its proper place in America. We really were becoming geographically illiterate in the mid-70s."

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