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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Learning Opportunity

Geography is about more than memorizing the names of capitals and longest rivers, but knowing the absolute and relative locations of places is important. New places can then be added to our ever-improving mental maps of the world.

We recommend a variety of geographic games for this purpose, and we are particularly fond of those that combine basic location with the opportunity to make other geographic comparisons. JetPunk is a particularly rich source of geography games with many special themes, but my favorite of these is simply a challenge to list all of the countries of the world in 12:00 minutes. As the names are typed, countries are shaded (if they are large enough to be seen at the small scale of the on-screen map) and entered into an alphabetical list by continental region.

I have completed the list several times now, but usually find that I miss a couple of those that are invisible on the screen, and that I cannot place alphabetically. Last night, Tonga was one such country, so I decided to make the game a bit more educational by looking up something about it. This makes the time invested in the game easier to justify!

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From the U.S. State Department's Tonga background page on the I learned that the word "tonga" means "south" in many Polynesian languages, and that it is south of Samoa. It is a sovereign, constitutional monarchy, but has an arrangement with the United Kingdom for external protection. It is among the islands of the Tongan archipelago that the famous mutiny of the H.M.S. Bounty took place in 1789. The mutiny is more often associated with Tahiti, 1,300 miles to the east, where the ship had spent the previous five months and with Pitcairn Island -- even farther east -- where the mutineers settled.

Bounty Voyage

1 comment:

  1. Jetpunk is great for learning the countries. It's possible to highlight the tiny countries by selecting "Show Dots for Micro-Nations" under the map.