Students travel to ‘Europe’
PHIL CAMPBELL – Students at Phil Campbell Elementary School took a trip to Europe recently, but thanks to several volunteers and organizations, they didn’t even have to leave their school campus to get there.
The students’ trip to Europe was made possible through a giant traveling map, which is a large floor map that measures 26 feet by 36 feet when spread out on the floor of the PCES gymnasium.
Linda Spurgeon, who teaches geography to students at Phil Campbell High School, was responsible for finding out about the giant map program two years ago while she was attending an Alabama Geographic Alliance conference.
Spurgeon was able to secure a map of Asia for Phil Campbell schools two years ago, and she helped bring a giant map of Africa to the school last year.
Since it was such a hit with the students, she said she was glad to help continue the program.
“The kids all really love the giant maps,” she said.
“It’s a fun thing for them, but they are also learning a lot, too. You can just tell that it’s something they enjoy by the way they interact and get excited.”
Spurgeon said the giant map was made possible through funding from the Alabama Geographic Alliance, the National Geographic Education Foundation and donations from supporters, so it doesn’t cost the school anything to house it for two days.
“This has been a really great thing for our students,” PCES principal Jackie Ergle said.
“These maps allow them to get hands-on experience with the world around them, and they are able to learn about different cultures, languages, and different animals that live in these places.”
Ergle said she appreciated Spurgeon and the volunteers from the elementary school’s PTO organization who came in to conduct the learning sessions with the map.
“Ms. Spurgeon has done a great job with this project the past few years, and it’s something our students look forward to,” Ergle said.
“I appreciate so much her being willing to do this for our students and the parents who have volunteered their time to help the students with the activities and lessons that go along with the map.”
Chasity Jackson, who serves as PTO president, said she was proud to work on a project that got the students excited about learning.
“You could see the excitement on their faces as they learned new things,” Jackson said.
“It’s neat for them to be able to learn about other places and not just the place they live in. It’s also great for them to interact and do more than just read about these places from a text book.”
Spurgeon said each giant map comes with lesson plans, activities, and other information that can be used to make the map a fun and interactive experience.
“With the younger grades, we’ve mainly just stuck with the map ‘tour’ that walks them through several of the countries in Europe and gives them facts about the countries,” she said.
“With the older grades, we used some of the activities and games. That’s the great thing about this map is that it is adaptable.”
Spurgeon said she also had several high school JAG students who came to help with the map.
“It’s been a great experience for everyone, and I appreciate all the people who took the time to help with it,” she said.
Spurgeon said anytime they have the opportunity to participate in a program that gets the students excited about learning, they’ll always jump at the chance.
“We are very appreciative to have the map travel to our school and help our students learn more about the world,” Spurgeon said.
“If this experience can get them interested in geography and the world around them, then it’s done its job.”