Learning on Location

February 6, 2013

Did you know that Mongolia's capital used to move depending on the season? Or that before Southern Sudan, Kosovo was the country most recently incorporated? And can you name the capitals of either of those countries?

If so, you're well on your way to passing the quiz I gave last week. My morning presentation, a geography quiz, was a demonstration of learning in action, both for the presenter and the audience.

I focused on the world outside of the U.S., specifically our knowledge of countries and their capitals. Too often, I have found geography or history courses focusing on memorization without ever giving a context or background on why these facts needed to be memorized. Thus, I created a geography quiz where each team had a chance to respond to the question, and if they answered correctly with any of the countries the question applied to, they were then given a chance for a bonus point if they could name the capital of this country. The second team was then given a chance to try to name the other country that answered the question, with a bonus question shot as well. It might sound a little complex in explanation, but the quiz (given below) should make it pretty straight forward. Try it out on your friends and see how many they can answer.

After each round was complete, I gave a brief background on the country or the fact, and then offered a unique or interesting custom native to the country. To me, geography should and can be fun if you start seeing the inhabitants behind the unique name or seemingly strange pronunciations of the capital or language.

I knew very few of the answers before making the quiz, so I expected it to be challenging.

It was. Very much so. Team 1 answered two of the question correctly, but most of the questions went unanswered.

My knowledge of world facts was improved not only in making the course but also in Micah's correction of two of my questions. One, which named Mongolia as the largest land-locked country in the world, was incorrect, at least by most modern standards. Micah noted that Kazakhstan only borders land and the Caspian Sea, which is considered the largest lake in the world, and is much larger in square mileage than Mongolia.

The third question, which listed Victoria Falls as the largest waterfall in the world, had to do with specificity, which is directly tied to ensuring learning is meaningful. Victoria Falls is neither the tallest nor widest waterfall in  the world, and it also does not have the greatest quantity of water flow per time or area. What is true is that it has the largest surface area of water falling i.e. its height and width, when multiplied, result in  the greatest value of any waterfall in  the world. So, if you were looking at it straight on, you would see more water passing in front of your eyes than any other waterfall in the world (which is still pretty cool, but not the logical conclusion from calling it the "largest").

Make sure you check any facts before you start reciting them to friends and family, and I hope you enjoy the links to the countries' customs below.

 

Lawline Geography Quiz

1. Name one of the only two doubly-landlocked countries

Country: Liechtenstein
Capital: Vaduz
Interesting custom:

Country: Uzbekistan
Capital: Tashkent

 

2. Southern Sudan was the most recent country to be incorporated. Name one of the last three countries that preceded it in incorporation.

Country: Kosovo
Capital: Pristina

Country: Serbia
Capital: Belgrade
Interesting custom: Opanak shoes

Country: Montenegro
Capital: Podgorica
Interesting fact:
Montenegro has 117 beaches

3. Victoria Falls, the waterfall with the largest surface area of water falling, straddles two countries. Name one of the two.

Country: Zambia
Capital: Lusaka
Interesting custom:

Country: Zimbabwe
Capital: Harare
Interesting fact: Balancing Rocks

Balancing Rocks

4. Name the country with the highest altitude lake and the largest salt flats or the least densely populated country in the world with a previously nomadic capital

Country: Bolivia
Capital: La Paz
Salar de Uyuni (salt flat) and Lake Titicaca (highest altitude lake)
Interesting fact: Salt flats!!!!

Country: Mongolia
Capital: Ulan Bator used to move three times a year - a nomadic city!
Ulan Bator is the coldest capital city in the world!
Mongolians spell Ulan Bator - 'Ulaan Baatar,' which means 'Red Hero.'

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