- Associated Press - Sunday, November 22, 2015

TEWKSBURY, Mass. (AP) - Seventh-grade students at John W. Wynn Middle School got a unique view of their vast world on Friday - on a scale that fit inside their school gymnasium.

The students participated in Project EarthView, a geography education program hosted by Bridgewater State University and the Center for the Advancement of STEM Education. The program features a hand-painted, accurate scale, inflatable globe - 22 feet in diameter, depicting oceans, continents and topography. Participants are able to go inside the globe for a unique look at the entire earth, in its correct proportions, all at once.

There are two EarthView globes, said Dr. James Hayes-Bohanan, professor of geography at BSU.

They are brought to schools around the region to teach students about geography, which encompasses more than memorizing names of countries, Hayes-Bohanan said.

“It’s really a dynamic discipline about the Earth and the real world, and how humans and the physical world interact,” he said. “When you start to see where things are relative to each other, it creates a lot of curiosity, and people have a lot of questions about the connections between places.”

When people don’t have a proper understanding of geography, it can lead to, quite literally, a limited world view, Hayes-Bohanan said.

“We are in a country that is the biggest economic and military power on Earth, but the people in it don’t really know much about the rest of the Earth, and what our connections are to other places,” he said.

“To become responsible citizens, we really need to understand our place in the world.”

A full-scale, globe-shaped map “demystifies” many of these issues, Hayes-Bohanan said.

“It’s helping to make sense of the rest of the world, because if we can make sense of it, we can make better decisions about it,” he said.

Rosalie Sokol, the official “Globe Lady” for EarthView, said students are often amazed to see how far spread apart different parts of the world are in relation to each other - especially 49th and 50th states from the rest of the continental United States.

“When you look at where Hawaii is compared to where we are, they never understand that it’s as far away as it really is,” Sokol said. “When they can actually see, and I trace it out a little bit, then that’s something (very interesting to them). And how close Alaska is to Russia. Things like that really amaze them.”

Sokol said the goal of EarthView is to make kids think more critically about the world around them.

“We try to foster that whole question-idea — why things are the way they are,” she said. “They always think of the world as, ‘It’s here and it’s static. It doesn’t change.’ Whereas (in reality), it’s changing every day.”

Once inside the globe, Sokol explained how shifting tectonic plates created the seven continents and thousands of islands dotting the Earth’s oceans. She pointed to rivers and mountains, and showed how the Earth had evolved over billions of years.

Students were fascinated. Abigayle Perry called the experience “amazing.”

“It’s extremely impressive how somebody painted that,” said Meagan Marshall.

“It’s really interesting how we can see what our world looks like up close, instead of being up high in an airplane,” Stephanie Manfri added.


Information from: The (Lowell, Mass.) Sun, https://www.lowellsun.com

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide