November 23, 2017

The Advocate's Toolbox

On the Map | Touch and Go

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Injecting game play or interactive quizzes into classroom lessons can help them go down more smoothly. There are a number of apps that quiz children on geography; Wayne Cherry reviews two today.

Screen from

Screen from GeoExpert HD-World Geography (Nerea Sanchez Dominguez)

GeoExpert HDWorld Geography (Nerea Sanchez Dominguez , iOS, $4.99, Android, $4.49; Gr 4 Up) and Seterra (Marianne Wartoft AB, iOS, $1.99, $ Android, $1.99; Gr 4 Up) are apps for learning world geography. GeoExpert offers users several levels of play covering the countries and rivers of six regions of the world, however, the only difference between the “easy” and “expert” levels are the number of countries that need to be identified. Clues given can include the capital, shape/outline of the country/state, and the national flag. While in “play” mode, viewers have two guesses before the correct answer is displayed. Facts and figures about each nation, including population statistics and area, are included. Under “North and Central America” users will find a map to learn the 50 United States (and/or their capitals and flags). The developers have updated and added content since the original version was released, and more is promised. A free lite version of GeoExpertHD—World Geography is available (iOS only), as are as a number of “GeoExpert” country-specific apps.

Screen from

Screen from Seterra (Marianne Wartoff AB)

Under seven geographic regions and “learn” or “play” modes, students can choose specific maps to explore in Seterra. For example, under South America, they will find five map quizzes: countries, capitals, Argentina: Provinces, Brazil: Cities, and Brazil: States. Under the “play” feature users are asked to identify specific locals (identified with circle on a blank map) with a tap as a clock ticks. A final score is noted.

Using the “learn” feature users can access a map that displays borders—and place names when the specific locale is tapped. Coverage is Eurocentric with 46 maps available under “Europe,” including “Bodies of Water,” “Rivers,” etc. Occasionally, a number of maps of one country are available. In the “flag” mode students also choose to “learn” them (maps are labeled by country when tapped) or quiz themselves by tapping on the flag when the country name is displayed. After multiple incorrect guesses a player’s score will drop and the correct answer is provided. No additional information or statistics are displayed. Given that this is a geography app, some may wonder why specificity is eschewed at times. For example, under the “World Map,” the labels for the North and South Islands of New Zealand do not include the country name.

In the classroom, GeoExpert is better suited for most students because it offers a richer graphic environment, more information, and leveled game play. For older students or those working on a geography bee, Seterra may be the better alternative for its straightforward approach to identifying countries on the map, but it lacks the detail and specificity of GeoExpert HD. Both apps are available in multiple languages.—Wayne R. Cherry, Jr.,St. Pius X High School, Houston, TX


Daryl Grabarek About Daryl Grabarek

Daryl Grabarek is the editor of School Library Journal's monthly enewsletter, Curriculum Connections, and its online column Touch and Go. Before coming to SLJ, she held librarian positions in private, school, public, and college libraries. Her dream is to manage a collection on a remote island in the South Pacific.

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