For the 15 days starting on March 1, the students of Bethune Elementary School of the Arts might find themselves walking from one end of Florida to the other. The task might seem daunting, but for these students it is nothing more than a hop, skip, and a jump from Key West to Tallahassee — literally.

During that period, Bethune Elementary School of the Arts is housing the country’s largest map of Florida, courtesy of National Geographic and the Florida Geographic Alliance.  After Hollywood, the map will work its way through the state before returning to the Florida Geographic Alliance at the end of the tour. The giant map measures 16 by 20 feet, and was designed by National Geographic as a geo-game board, which invites students to explore and discover the diverse geography of Florida.

The Florida map is one in a series of 51 state maps created by National Geographic to engage students with the geography of their states. The giant maps, designed for grades K-8, come with a trunk full of accessories, including geography adventures, interactive games, atlases, books, videos and music that teach students about the physical characteristics of the continents as well as the rich history and varied cultures.

These maps also help showcase My Wonderful World, a five-year National Geographic-led campaign to improve geographic literacy so students can become more informed global citizens. The campaign is designed to improve the geographic literacy of young people ages 8-17 by motivating parents and educators to make geography more available and accessible in school, home, and community.

Bethune Elementary, located at 2400 Meade St, provides a magnet program with a performing and visual arts emphasis. Students from the primary grades (kindergarten through second grade) take part in an exposure program, rotating through dance, drama, band, keyboard, strings and the two-dimensional and three-dimensional visual arts. Through the exposure-type program, students begin to discover their areas of strength in the arts and, along with their parents and teachers, are able to make a choice for a major and minor area of focus in grade three.

At the intermediate level (grades three through five) students pursue intensive training at a more advanced level in the areas they have chosen. At fifth grade level, students are prepared for entrance into the middle school performing arts magnet if that is their middle school choice.

For Information about the school, please contact Latosha Williams, Principal, at 754-323-4900.  For information about the giant map program, please contact Laurie Molina, Florida Geographic Alliance, Florida State University, 850-644-2007.