Road Trip Teaches Geography

Road Trip teaches United States geography in an unusual way. Rather than have students study maps, Road Trip has students use them. Using maps is a fairly common activity among adult travelers but is somewhat out of the experience of young people. In our tests of the Road Trip program, there were no students who required more than a couple of minutes of instruction to understand the maps. Although Road Trip was designed so that maps must be used to get to the "good parts," we found that children enjoyed the maps on their own. Some students even told us that they "liked driving the best." We had one student who didn't stop to see a video through an entire 30-minute session (despite our frequent suggestions) and, at the end, told us, "It's a really neat game."

The lesson to be learned here is that using incidental learning leads naturally to nice side effects. Our original goal was not to teach the skill of map-reading. However, once we decided to have students actually do something that would require them to know geography, map reading came naturally.

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