Students Learn about South America

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Lauderdale County, Miss. Students got a chance to learn geography in a very hands on environment Wednesday. The National Geographic Alliance brought its giant traveling map to Southeast Elementary School.

The map is so big, the only room to view it in is the gymnasium. What the map represents to the children
is an opportunity to learn about places far away, the animals that live there, the people that live there and the cultures as well.

"We want to excite children about geography," said teaching consultant Karen Wallace. "We want to teach them as much as we can about geography, which is not a lot in one little period. But we want the to discover more and learn about what's going on in the world, how to read maps, and how to make themselves excited about the possibility of being other places."

The interaction that the kids get to do with the map makes a fun learning experience. Some kids were mountains, some were the equator, but all got to participate.

The excitement of the kids could be seen on their faces as they learned about monkeys, jaguars, and tree fogs in the Amazon.

"They love to be on the giant map. We've learned about the symbols on the map by putting little outlines of cars and trucks and planes and trains, and it's just 'feet on' activities," Wallace said.

The map has already visited West Lauderdale Elementary, and Northeast Lauderdale Elementary. Its next stop is Mississippi State in Starkville.

There are five other National Geographic maps that travel across schools in the U.S. In addition to South America, there are maps of North America, Asia, Europe, Africa and the Pacific Ocean.