National Geographic : 1993 Mar
THE PRESIDENT'S REPORT ON THE Education Foundation Students and Teachers Explore With Marco Polo he sea has long held a special allure for me, so I must admit to being a bit envious of 35 youngsters and teachers who spent two weeks last summer studying the geography of Egypt and cruising the Mediterranean Sea as part of a National Geographic Society-U. S . Navy program. Project Marco Polo puts teams of educators and students aboard Navy survey ships, where they study oceanography and experience different cultures at ports of call. For a week before they set sail, the group toured Egypt and learned about the Navy's medical programs to fight diseases in Africa. Then, on board the U.S.N .S. Chauvenet, students launched weather balloons, collected data for nautical charts, and took sediment samples from the sea bottom. The crew taught the youngsters naviga tion, knot tying, and how to spell their names with signal flags (right). "The sea was so clear," recalls Brant Oliphant, who learned to use a sextant during the voyage (above). The 13-year-old seventh grader from Juneau, Alaska, added that "at home the water's murky because of silt that runs off the glaciers." After gathering plankton in nets and examining the minute creatures under a microscope, Brant, who had planned to be an architect, now says, "I might really want to be a naturalist." For nearly three years the Ocean ographer of the Navy, Rear Adm. Geoffrey Chesbrough, and I have been working hard to make Marco Polo a model example of how two very different organizations can join forces to enhance geography education. The first Marco Polo trip was to Indonesia. Next came a voyage to waters off the east coast of Japan. Last year's trip, starting in Egypt and ending in Greece, involved teacher-student teams from Alaska, California, Michigan, Minnesota, and North Carolina. The most important work comes after the explorers return home: They share their experiences with BOTH BY PAT LANZA others, speaking before school assemblies and local service clubs. I hope we'll see many more Marco Polo voyages. Both the Soci ety and the Navy eagerly look for ward to broadened support for the program-from other agencies, foundations, and corporations. Such sharing of resources will ensure Marco Polo's future as a unique tool for spreading geography education. /'/L $/ THE NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY EDUCATION FOUNDATIONWAS ESTABLISHED TO RAISE AND DISTRIBUTE FUNDS FOR EDUCATIONALAND SCIENTIFIC PROGRAMS.