STRONG — Sixth-graders at the elementary school learned about South America on Thursday by walking on one of the world’s largest maps of the continent.

Sue Lahti, an instructor for the Maine Geographic Alliance, brought the map to the school through National Geographic’s Giant Traveling Maps program.

The students in each grade took their shoes off before stepping on the 35-foot by 26-foot vinyl surface. Lahti gave the 25 students cards and directions to find the oceans, seas, rivers, mountains, countries and capitals.

She organized activities with props and photo cards that teach students about the physical characteristics of the continent as well as its history, wildlife and varied cultures.

Social studies teacher Crystal Polk explained that the traveling maps started with Africa in 2006. Since then the program has expanded to maps of North America, Asia, South America and the Pacific Ocean.

“The students enjoy the different perspective they get, and they learn so much from the activities,” she said.

The maps help showcase My Wonderful World (, one of National Geographic’s efforts to promote geographic literacy and help students become more globally informed, Polk said.

Lahti joined the Maine Geographic Alliance for its first Summer Geography Institute in 1993 and has been co-coordinator since 1996.

For more information, visit or call the MGA office on the University of Maine at Farmington campus at 778-7442.

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