Hamilton team knows its world

MAPPING THEIR WAY TO VICTORY

June 03, 1993|By Laura Lippman | Laura Lippman,Staff Writer

It was late in the game, and neither team was gaining any ground. Then Gardenville Elementary School took a wrong turn at Kiev, and Hamilton Elementary surged to victory in the Indian Ocean.

So went the final minutes yesterday in the second Baltimore Globetrotters competition, when 144 city fifth-graders proved they knew their way around the world.

Unlike last week's National Geography Bee, the Globetrotters contest stresses map skills over memorization. If the students know where to look, they can easily find the answers in the 30 seconds allotted.

But would you know where to find the Barents Sea or the Bay of Bengal? Or the world's deepest lake, just north of Mongolia? And could you determine in 30 seconds whether Moscow, Ottawa or London is the northernmost city. (It's Moscow, by the way.)

"The whole idea is to get children so excited about map-reading that they go beyond geography to learn about the world," said Sari Bennett of the Maryland Geographic Alliance, which developed the Globetrotters competition with the Abell Foundation. "Every year, it gets tougher to write questions. Many of the questions they can answer without a map."

Public school fifth-graders from throughout the city competed for slots on the three-member teams that met yesterday on the campus of the College of Notre Dame. Gardenville, Hamilton and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor then advanced to the finals, where teams were eliminated if they failed on two questions.

For the Coleridge-Taylor students, latitude and longitude proved their undoing. Poised and confident in the first round, they tripped over questions that asked them to locate cities relative to others.

And the Gardenville students maintain they got a bad break when asked to find which ocean held the Barents, Laptev and Chukchi seas. A glare at the top of the map made it difficult to spot them within the Arctic Ocean.

"We weren't tall enough," lamented Goodwin Chen.

But Gardenville was eliminated on one of the easier questions: What is the westernmost capital on mainland Europe? Instead of heading for Lisbon, teammates Goodwin, Ben Aylesworth and Justin Griffin ended up in Kiev.

To win, however, the Hamilton team still had to field one more question: What body of water holds Madagascar and Sri Lanka? They barely had to look at the map before shouting: "The Indian Ocean!"

Afterward, the winning team -- Derek Charnigo, Kristen Ehrenberger and Alison Walley-Morrow -- confided it was expecting some "off-the-wall" question for the victory. Each victor got a trophy and $100.

Kristen hoped that her triumph would lead to a less-tangible reward. "I never get to sit up front when we go on trips," said the 10-year-old who wants to be the family navigator. "I think this will make a fine argument."

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