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Geography might seem like a subject solely for school time. But, it's not just something you "learn" in class—it is also something you can actively "do." As summer approaches, we're showing you how to give kids the power of global knowledge by playing games on that looong car ride to your vacation destination, by volunteering to help with environmental or cultural projects, by reading fun books that have a geographic bent, and more. Don't forget to watch Alex Trebek host the National Geographic Bee May 20 on the National Geographic Channel or your local PBS station—those kids are something else!

Christopher Shearer
My Wonderful World (MWW) Director
Do Geography on Summer Vacation
Photo:Summer is within sight! Whatever your plans, we encourage you to DO geography, and we have plenty of ideas to get you started.

Here's one: Volunteer!

Summer is a time to indulge in recreation and relaxation, and there's no better food for the soul—or way to learn—than giving to others and the planet, whether locally or globally. Through volunteering, you'll develop a connection with a place and its people while contributing to its unique environmental and social fabric. You'll also answer President Obama's call to service!

(1) Adventurous teens can embark on two-week service trips to China, Ghana, Guatemala, or Costa Rice through Cross-Cultural Solutions, or (2) participate in one of the Student Conservation Association's summer community programs in the U.S. (3) Check out 1-800-volunteer.org, a national database providing listings by zip code and travel distance for more local options; (4) Idealist.org also offers thousands of volunteer and internship opportunities. (5) meet with do-gooders of all ages at the National Conference on Volunteering & Service in San Francisco, June 22–24.
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Take a Virtual Vacation With Summer Reading
Photo: sidebarThe third edition of the National Geographic Student Atlas of the World has everything for today's globally minded student: maps that reflect modern borders, fully updated essays and statistics, new photographs and graphics, and links to online resources. For those wanting to explore the world through literature, In2Books is your passport to summer learning. Pairing kids and e-mentors to read books that spark discussions about human relationships and culture, In2Books is building a generation of engaged world citizens.

Geography-to-go Travel Games
Photo: sidebarTurn off the Gameboy, and turn your road trip into a fun lesson in geography with My Wonderful World Geography-to-go travel games. Activities like State Plate Round-up and the silly stories of Travel Tales will keep the kids busy for hours!
Plan Your Dream Vacation
Photo: sidebarNational Geographic Kids magazine's dream vacation planner brings imagination to life! Answer a series of questions and the interactive tool will provide colorful photos and vacation ideas. For adults, National Geographic Traveler's online city guides and National Geographic Traveler Guidebooks make planning your international vacation a snap.
Plan a Low-budget Camping Trip
Photo: sidebarFor families looking to have a good time without breaking the bank, camping is an excellent option that can get you away from the demands of modern life and "back to nature." Find a campground near you!
Watch the National Geographic Bee on TV
Photo: sidebarGet smarter over the summer with the National Geographic Bee. Gain inspiration from student standouts when the national competition airs May 20 on the National Geographic Channel and later on public television stations (check local listings for days and times or go to Maryland Public Television to see station carriage). Then, hone your skills through the Bee's Study Corner and GeoBee daily quiz game.
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Take Action
Photo:Travel Responsibly
It's great to experience new places through travel. But visitors can love a destination to death if they're not careful, diminishing its value for future generations. The new geotourism movement sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place—its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents. Geotourism expands upon the concept of ecotourism by adding a broader focus on human-environment interactions and "sense of place."

Embrace the tenets of geotourism wherever you go this summer, and support others leading the charge! May 20 is the deadline for nominations for the 2009 Geotourism Challenge. Soon you'll be able to vote for your favorite proposal; in the meantime, check out National Geographic's Center for Sustainable Destinations. Inspiring videos provide insight into What is Geotourism? and the Choices facing travelers; you'll also find Geotraveler Tips and MapGuides to Montreal, Yellowstone, Guatemala, and more. Visit the MWW blog to hear from the center's Ann Nygard!

Take Action
Photo:Demystifying the Swine Flu Pandemic…With Geography!
Citizens around the world are concerned about the swine flu virus, which has been most insidious in Mexico but is also affecting travelers in the U.S., Canada, Europe, New Zealand, and a growing number of nations as shown on Google and Rhiza Lab’s swine flu incidence map. Amid all the hype, assessing the real risks can be daunting. Terms like "outbreak," "epidemic," and "pandemic" are often used interchangeably, infecting listeners with fear and confusion.

Luckily, My Wonderful World is here to the rescue! The distinctions among these terms, and their implications, are—you guessed it—geographic.

Here's a quick primer: An outbreak occurs when the reported cases of a disease are greater than the levels predicted for a given area or period of time. That means that if one person is predicted to get the flu in your town, and two become ill, it's an outbreak! Outbreaks are usually, but not always, limited in geographic scale. Keep reading the blog to learn how epidemics and pandemics differ—and what geography can tell us about the future of swine flu.

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Summer Travelpalooza
This month we're getting pumped for our summer trips by traveling vicariously through friends in the National Geographic community. Kids can follow along with Tyler and Stefan Jenss, two brothers circling the world with their parents, as they share thoughts on the Mona Lisa and lead a tour of a Bavarian castle on the Global Bros blog. Beginning May 23, join 15 more student bloggers on a journey to Peru with National Geographic Kids magazine's Hands-on Explorer Challenge.

Aspiring teen artists and explorers won't want to miss an interview with Chris Waggoner, who, in the true spirit of National Geographic, recounts how his Student Expeditions trip to Costa Rica helped cement his interest in photography. And for adults, read the blog entry from Ann Nygard of National Geographic's Center for Sustainable Destinations.
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