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National Geographic puts local students on the map

By Nicole Burns for the FCT


Students at Phil Campbell and Tharptown Elementary Schools are really going places. This year, they’re traveling through North America on the National Geographic Giant Traveling Map.

The University of North Alabama Geography Department and the Alabama Geographic Alliance rent the map and provide it to local schools so students can get a new perspective on the world.

This is the fourth year the map has made its way through Franklin County. In years past, students have traveled though maps of Asia, Africa, and Europe. Tharptown High School Access Facilitator Linda Spurgeon helps orchestrate the map’s time at Franklin County schools.

“It’s interactive in the sense that the kids can get on the map and walk around and discover new things,” said Spurgeon. “This year, it’s really good because it’s North America. It’s got the states listed on there and a lot of good information.”

JAG students from Phil Campbell and Tharptown High Schools rotate throughout the day to help the young students play games and learn about the continent. Spurgeon said, “The younger kids enjoy exploring the map. We talk about the animals that might be in that part of the world. We talk about the different temperatures, like how it’s cold or warm in different areas on the map.”

PCES PTO Co-President Shalena Doughit said the PTO is a big supporter of this learning tool, and they want to do all they can to help students make the most of the experience “just so that the kids will have the chance to be able to see what the world looks like and where they actually live and learn more about it,” Doughit said. “And I think it gives them more of an opportunity than they get in a classroom.”

While each class had time on the map, students played games like Simon Says. They also used flash cards to find and learn about monuments, states and important areas of interest on the map.

“The kids have been really excited about it and learning new things,” said Doughit.

There is no word on where next year’s map adventure will take students, but Spurgeon said as long as UNA and the AGA continue to provide the opportunity, she will do her part to help students see the world, one continent at a time.