Fun Geography? Need some help.

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El Spark
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Fun Geography? Need some help.

Postby El Spark » Wed Jan 12, 2011 3:36 pm UTC

I am in need of help from the Collective Brain. This summer, we're going to be running programs at my library that deal with the theme "You Are Here." The obvious move is to go with geographical stuff, but I work with teenagers. I don't want to be the person who bores the hell out of the teens by throwing the same old facts their way.

I'm looking for something fun, something weird and attention-grabbing. Do you know some strange fact about geography, whether in your area or not, that might be of interest to others?

For instance, I live in Arkansas. Rather than rehash the old jokes, here's a new one! There's a town here called Toad Suck (you read that correctly), apparently so named because the riverboat merchants used to stop there and suck down beer until they swelled up like toads. The citizens really push the name as far as they can, with Toad Suck Days in the summer and then a Toad Drop for New Year's Day.

For another example, I'm originally from California, and I went to school in Boonville (it's a small town, but the county seat). Boonville is one of the few regions in America that has its own language. It's called Boontling, and it's a fairly simple substitution language like Cockney, but weird in that it more or less sprang up spontaneously in this small community in the middle of nowhere.

So, any ideas? Was I clear with the intention here?
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Re: Fun Geography? Need some help.

Postby EvilDuckie » Wed Jan 12, 2011 3:51 pm UTC

Given the "You Are Here" theme, you might compare Arkansas with other countries in terms of e.g. population (Oman), area (Greece) and other stuff. Or show the distance from Arkansas to Washington DC and then indicate that same distance on maps of other continents. Just some thoughts.
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Re: Fun Geography? Need some help.

Postby the_bandersnatch » Wed Jan 12, 2011 4:09 pm UTC

I'd suggest getting one of those machines that fire tennis balls so people can practice their serve or whatever. But instead of tennis balls, fill it with miniature globes of the same size. I'm sure people will pay more attention if there's the risk of being hit by the world travelling at high velocity if they're not listening.
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Re: Fun Geography? Need some help.

Postby Dthen » Wed Jan 12, 2011 4:17 pm UTC

EvilDuckie wrote:you might compare Arkansas with other countries


What.


El Spark wrote:language like Cockney


What.
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Re: Fun Geography? Need some help.

Postby El Spark » Wed Jan 12, 2011 4:20 pm UTC

*shrugs* As far as I know, in my limited studies, cockney is a fairly simple substitution-based language.
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Re: Fun Geography? Need some help.

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Jan 12, 2011 4:27 pm UTC

Given a lot of our states are the size of a lot of European countries, it's a fair comparison when discussing area. The UK and Wyoming are similar in area, for example. It's also helpful mentioning things like that when discussing Europe in America or discussing America in Europe. That the UK is slightly smaller than Wyoming, but has more people in it than California (#1) and New York (#3) combined. And about the same as California and Texas (#2) combined.

El Spark wrote:*shrugs* As far as I know, in my limited studies, cockney is a fairly simple substitution-based language.

The word you're looking for is Dialect or Slang, not language.
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Re: Fun Geography? Need some help.

Postby Lazar » Wed Jan 12, 2011 4:44 pm UTC

El Spark wrote:*shrugs* As far as I know, in my limited studies, cockney is a fairly simple substitution-based language.

Cockney is not a language, it's a dialect, characterized chiefly by pronunciation - it's traditionally the speech of working-class people in the East End of London. What I think you're trying to refer to is Cockney rhyming slang, which is not the same thing.
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Re: Fun Geography? Need some help.

Postby dubsola » Wed Jan 12, 2011 5:11 pm UTC

EvilDuckie wrote:Given the "You Are Here" theme, you might compare Arkansas with other countries in terms of e.g. population (Oman), area (Greece) and other stuff. Or show the distance from Arkansas to Washington DC and then indicate that same distance on maps of other continents. Just some thoughts.

I know a lot of places in America were named after places in Europe/Asia/Africa: Paris, Athens, Cairo etc. Maybe you could talk about the where the names came from, what the original cities are like, etc.

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Re: Fun Geography? Need some help.

Postby PatrickRsGhost » Wed Jan 12, 2011 6:45 pm UTC

Take local interests (malls, restaurants, etc.) and compare them to similar locales elsewhere in the country, or world. For example, focus on a popular locally-owned and operated restaurant, and find a restaurant that serves the same cuisine located in another state of the U.S. Keep the theme the same (local vs. local). Perhaps call that restaurant, and ask if they can send a copy of their menu to you, and compare it to the menu of the local restaurant in your area.

Since you're in Arkansas, I'd imagine you have a few monuments or memorial parks dealing with the Civil War. Do a search for other memorial parks or monuments in other states and get information on them. One of the biggest ones in the entire Southeast would have to be Stone Mountain Park, here in Georgia. The mountain itself is famous for the carving on its face of Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson, and Robert E. Lee. There is an exhibit called Antebellum Plantation, where they had brought in a few houses from around the South, and set up a mock plantation, to give a feeling of what life was like in the South prior to the Civil War.

Compare and contrast the state of Arkansas to other states in the U.S., on population, area (square miles), how big the capital city is, how big the "metro" area is (cities surrounding the capital city, or major cities), and so on.

Dig up some of the more interesting history of Arkansas. This could include haunted sites and ghosts (there I go again with the paranormal angle), or news stories that are out of the ordinary.

Something that could be an entire summer-long project: Ask the kids if any of them were born in Arkansas. Ask them to research their family's history, especially if their parents and grandparents lived in Arkansas all their lives. That would get them more involved in their family history, and in some cases, more interested in their state's history, especially if their family had any role in it.
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Re: Fun Geography? Need some help.

Postby EvilDuckie » Wed Jan 12, 2011 8:02 pm UTC

Dthen wrote:
EvilDuckie wrote:you might compare Arkansas with other countries


What.


Oops :oops:

dubsola wrote:I know a lot of places in America were named after places in Europe/Asia/Africa: Paris, Athens, Cairo etc. Maybe you could talk about the where the names came from, what the original cities are like, etc.


I've been meaning to map this for US counties, if only I could find the time :roll:
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Re: Fun Geography? Need some help.

Postby Rinsaikeru » Wed Jan 12, 2011 8:15 pm UTC

Are you able to do any orienteering? Is there a budget for using or making compasses? Do something interesting with rocks? (Rock tumbling, identifying local rock, ...)

If it's a theme from which you can go in any direction you could do some different activities:

Have them write a short story starting with the phrase "you are here." That could get interesting.
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Re: Fun Geography? Need some help.

Postby El Spark » Wed Jan 12, 2011 8:33 pm UTC

These are great ideas, guys! Thanks for the help!

We totally have the budget for orienteering, and we might do something with geocaching, too.
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Re: Fun Geography? Need some help.

Postby Lostdreams » Wed Jan 12, 2011 8:48 pm UTC

On short stories:

Pick points on the globe and have the students write a short story about what another student in the designated spot will do in one day, starting at the same time as when they are in class and running for 24 hours.

ex. Your class starts at 10:00 -8 UTC and you are located in southern California. The student's dot is in Ontario, Canada where the they are eating lunch because it's 12:00 and what they're eating is warm because it's particularly cold outside today. Have them note nearby landmarks. Google Earth/Maps are useful free tools also.

Depending on your resources you could have them look up the actual weather for the day and customs and habits of the culture they are part of but landmarks, weather, and seasons will probably be the best easy examples. Overall it's an effective representation and highly expandable.
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Re: Fun Geography? Need some help.

Postby PatrickRsGhost » Wed Jan 12, 2011 9:46 pm UTC

Along the lines of what I had mentioned earlier dealing with local interests, here's something else:

Have the kids help write their own version of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", but instead of the entire galaxy, have it be about the state of Arkansas. I don't mean for them to research trivial information any idiot could look up anywhere. I mean to include real, informative stuff.

In the fictional "Hitchhiker's Guide", it is written by not just someone who looks up shit in a book or visits maybe once and writes down what's there. They provide pointers and tips on how to get around different parts of the galaxy. How to properly order a drink from a barmaid at a pub on Io (one of Jupiter's moons, for the Astronomically-challenged...named after a character in Greek mythology who was turned into a cow) is just as important as what pubs would be found there.

Have the kids create the same thing, dealing with local restaurants, schools, malls/shopping centers, individual stores, libraries, etc. Have them give information you won't be able to find as easily on the Internet or in any travel guide.

You could also create a similar guide not just to Arkansas, but the world around you, using information they can provide from places they've been, using pictures they've taken, and pictures of souvenirs they might have gotten. You could scan their pictures, or ask them to burn the pictures to a CD or e-mail them to you, and together you could help create and publish the guide.
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Re: Fun Geography? Need some help.

Postby dubsola » Thu Jan 13, 2011 10:33 am UTC

PatrickRsGhost wrote:Take local interests (malls, restaurants, etc.) and compare them to similar locales elsewhere in the country, or world. For example, focus on a popular locally-owned and operated restaurant, and find a restaurant that serves the same cuisine located in another state of the U.S. Keep the theme the same (local vs. local). Perhaps call that restaurant, and ask if they can send a copy of their menu to you, and compare it to the menu of the local restaurant in your area.

This is awesome. Made me think of another idea, not sure how well it would work if you weren't in an ethnically diverse area, but:

Everyone's familiar with the various demographics of the place they live in. For example, London is pretty mixed: Anglo Saxons, Afro Carribeans, South Asians (India / Pakistan / Bangladesh / etc), Turkish, Polish, south American, and so on. I would love to compare that with the demographics of say Los Angeles, and see how that makes the city different in terms of restaurants, cultural events, and so on. Like here in London it's easy to get jerk chicken or a great curry, and we have Notting Hill Carnival, which is all about Caribbean music. In LA there's loads of places to get a good burrito, there's the Cinco de Mayo festival.

You could then get deeper and work out how the city came to be that way, when the various waves of immigrants came and so on.

Might be a bit abstract though, but it's something that has always interested me.

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Re: Fun Geography? Need some help.

Postby PatrickRsGhost » Thu Jan 13, 2011 11:33 am UTC

dubsola wrote:
PatrickRsGhost wrote:Take local interests (malls, restaurants, etc.) and compare them to similar locales elsewhere in the country, or world. For example, focus on a popular locally-owned and operated restaurant, and find a restaurant that serves the same cuisine located in another state of the U.S. Keep the theme the same (local vs. local). Perhaps call that restaurant, and ask if they can send a copy of their menu to you, and compare it to the menu of the local restaurant in your area.

This is awesome. Made me think of another idea, not sure how well it would work if you weren't in an ethnically diverse area, but:

Everyone's familiar with the various demographics of the place they live in. For example, London is pretty mixed: Anglo Saxons, Afro Carribeans, South Asians (India / Pakistan / Bangladesh / etc), Turkish, Polish, south American, and so on. I would love to compare that with the demographics of say Los Angeles, and see how that makes the city different in terms of restaurants, cultural events, and so on. Like here in London it's easy to get jerk chicken or a great curry, and we have Notting Hill Carnival, which is all about Caribbean music. In LA there's loads of places to get a good burrito, there's the Cinco de Mayo festival.

You could then get deeper and work out how the city came to be that way, when the various waves of immigrants came and so on.

Might be a bit abstract though, but it's something that has always interested me.


That would be cool as well. Sometimes the history of how a town or city came to be can be very interesting. For example, there is a city in Georgia I used to live in called Tallapoosa, which is Indian (Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, not really sure) for "Golden River." Some of the earliest settlers were Hungarians.

Most of the Hungarians came down from Pennsylvania, where they had worked in the mines. A guy that owned a winery and vineyard brought them down to work in them (their wine-making skills...let them sho u dem) and they had set up five colonies in present-day Tallapoosa. The first of these colonies, also the biggest, was Budapest, named after the capital city of Hungary. The colonies flourished, and when the winery and vineyard closed down due to Prohibition, the colonists packed up and left. Nothing remains today of those colonies, except a small cemetery about the size of a double-wide trailer across the street from the Haralson County landfill called "Budapest Cemetery".
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Re: Fun Geography? Need some help.

Postby dubsola » Thu Jan 13, 2011 11:41 am UTC

Amazing, I love that stuff.

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Re: Fun Geography? Need some help.

Postby PatrickRsGhost » Fri Jan 14, 2011 3:28 am UTC

Speaking of short stories, here's something else:

If you're dealing with teenagers, more than likely they're going to study, or have already studied, The Canterbury Tales. In keeping with the theme, take the kids on a walking tour of the town, stopping at various locales along the way, but instead of reaching a final destination of somewhere on the other side of town, make a round-about trip back to the library.

This is how I would do it: Plot the journey, and choose different locales along the way. Some examples could be a bank, an auto repair or parts shop, the post office, a restaurant or two, a nursing home, the hospital, an apartment complex, and other places. Write these locales down on several strips of paper and put them into a bowl or a hat. Have each child draw one of those strips. That locale will be their place to tell a story. This is the challenge: They must write their own story, with the locale or the type of locale as the subject, or as having a major part of the story. For example, if you stop at a Pep Boys, the teen that pulled that locale out of the hat would have to write a story about a mechanic or a car and tell it to the group, while everyone rests at that locale. When you return to the library, everyone must vote on the best story, and the winner would get a prize.
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Re: Fun Geography? Need some help.

Postby animeHrmIne » Fri Jan 14, 2011 10:34 pm UTC

You could do something about dry counties in Arkansas. Have them plot a map of the state showing which counties don't allow alcohol. You could also have them divide into groups and debate whether or not your county should/shouldn't be dry. I'd imagine that if you have no legal reason to turn them in for drinking underage, you should preface the debate by letting them share their own experiences. It could be really interesting.
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