Friday, April 27, 2007

By Carolyn Koehnke, age 10

Home-schooled, Annandale

Did you think maps were boring and simple to use? Well, think again. Maps actually are fun and even can be confusing.

At “Maps: Tools for Adventure,” an exhibit at the National Geographic Society in the District, your map skills will be put to the test in fun and surprising ways.

“Maps: Tools for Adventure” is organized into sections, each with its own topic. There are stations on explorers, your neighborhood, ancient Egypt, treasure hunting, Mars and the jungle.

“Maps: Tools for Adventure” is an amazing exhibit. While you are there, you can do fun activities such as creating maps of your neighborhood or steering Amelia Earhart’s airplane. You also can learn about such exciting voyages as Lewis and Clark’s expedition. You can search underwater for Blackbeard’s ship or guide a Land Rover across the surface of Mars.

One of my favorite activities there was creating a weather forecast. To do that, you stand in front of a weather map and place weather magnets on the map. Then you give your forecast.

Another exciting thing to do is to build a map of the pyramids in ancient Egypt. You can test your family’s knowledge of geography on the family map game or just look at the stars.

Another of the really fun parts is the dress-up station. You dress up as an explorer and get your picture taken on the cover of a National Geographic magazine.

If you walk around the exhibit, you will see maps of interesting and strange places hung up on the walls. Some fun games are a partner maze and a map decoding station. You can test your skills at recognizing symbols on a map in Adventure Island or see how good you are with a compass rose as you navigate through a map of the District.

I would give the “Maps: Tools for Adventure” exhibit four stars. It deserves that rating because of its interesting videos and its fun, interactive games.

I used to think maps were boring, but now, because of this exhibit, I realize just how much fun maps can be. I recommend this exhibit for kids ages 5 through 12 who enjoy learning about history and science. Check out this exhibit’s official Web site for fun interactive games at

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