I come across all sorts of interesting resources and reference tools as I flesh-out my story ideas. Some are useful or stimulating, or simply entertaining. I wade through a lot of trash, too but I toss those aside. Fortunately that’s not the case today. Here are a couple of sites that are — dare I say it? — educational. As Bill Cosby used to preach on the old Fat Albert show, "if you’re not careful you might learn something before it’s done." No, I have no idea why that popped into my mind.
Here’s a simple little site that will test your knowledge of an area of the world that’s vitally important, but often overlooked in geography education. A 2006 study of young Americans found that only 37% of respondents could find Iraq on a map and that 20% thought Sudan was in Asia. So send all your Young Americans over to this site and let them gain some useful knowledge! The game lets players make as many mistakes as they like without keeping score. Only you will know how lamely you did.
Now in honesty, I did pretty well on this game as would any regular reader of Twelve Mile Circle or else you wouldn’t be following an odd geography blog. I did have to think for awhile about all the "Stans" formed after the breakup of the old Soviet Union though. That’s probably because the USSR was still around when I went through school and I carry all that baggage and outdated knowledge around in the back of my mind. It also didn’t help that Steve over at CT Museum Quest just reviewed CCCP Energy Drink and skewed my thought process even further (the photo from the soft drink convention still haunts me. Especially the guy on the left).
When you go to the site, click SUBJECTS along the upper toolbar and then click GEOGRAPHY. You can choose to be quizzed about countries or world capitals. Oh let me warn you right away that you’ll have a lot of trouble leaving this game once you begin. It starts out easy with countries like Portugal and builds up to increasingly difficult and addictive levels.
When you miss a question – and eventually you will because it will throw a bunch of insanely small African countries and all the Stans at you in a row – it drops back down to an easier level. It also cycles back to countries chosen incorrectly so it actually teaches users as it goes through the game. I won’t tell you which one I missed because it’s embarrassing, but I will note that I selected the same wrong answer the next time around, like somehow the world would have bent to my will in the intervening thirty seconds. The world capital game was similar, and for me, even more difficult.
I have no idea whether any free rice actually results from this exercise or not. Maybe this game results in some small residual good for mankind, or maybe it doesn’t. Either way it’s fun and you won’t stop because you’ll have some psychological a need to keep your score at a 5, even though you have lots of other things you should be doing.