Geography Lessons Made Easy: There’s an App for that
I was skeptical of smart phone technology before I got one for myself. I’m not a Luddite (who is these days?), but I have been a slow adopter of new technology on the grounds that much of it is pointless. Humans, though, are evolved to be innovators, and thus, I can’t be totally anti-technology. When it comes to education, I am a believer that certain life skills are more important than access to fancy equipment. I am an educational minimalist. I think anybody who wants (wants and has opportunity) to learn can learn. If African kids in a tiny, roofless, dirt floored school can learn then anybody can; technology, in other words, is convenient but not necessary. However, it happens that my basic life philosophy gets thrown curve balls on occasion. Example: My 7 year old spent last week learning all the states completely on his own. I had no idea he was doing it. “How?” you ask. Stack the States, an iPhone game that I had gotten for myself a few weeks ago on a whim because I realized Angry Birds and Plants vs. Zombies wasn’t exactly stimulating my neurons, is how.
Stack the States – Stack the Countries
You get multiple choice questions. When you get a correct answer a state is given to you which you are then tasked with rotating and placing on a platform. As you earn more states you stack them one on top of the other until you have a stack high enough to reach a predetermined marker (height determined by your progress into the game). When you get to the marker the game chimes “Ta-daaa!” and you get one U.S. State to put on your map (of 50, not 57). Fill in all the states and you win the game. Stacking the states, by the way, is not as easy as it would seem. Rhode Island, for instance, is of almost no use (sorry Rhode Island) in reaching any height. California, you’d think, would be an instant win. But, it’s shaped funny, meaning the only way to place it most of the time is on its side. Thus, it becomes either a scooped out, wobbly platform or a convex platform that everything else tends to slide off of.
Why It’s pretty darn awesome:
Because it’s not just dryly learning states. You actually end up learning the shapes. Imagine you’re a mason who knows all the shapes of the stones around him and knows just which ones fit where so the wall doesn’t fall down. The states don’t come to you in any convenient pattern, so stacking them means you’ll have to be creative. It’s brilliant! Alan knows all the states and a bunch of random facts about each of them. But, more importantly, he also knows what each state looks like, their relative sizes, and each of their odd geometric characteristics. There is also a Stack the Countries game which seems equally educational and fun. Here are some screen shots of Stack the States: