Celebrate Geography Awareness Week

Celebrate Geography Awareness Week

This Geography Awareness Week, gather your friends, family, coworkers, and everyone in between to help you celebrate! Use these activity and event ideas during Geography Awareness Week—and the rest of the year—to show your love for geography.


K, 1 - 12+


Geography, Human Geography

Photograph by Mark Fisher
Geography Awareness Week

Your Geography Awareness Event can be as big as you want it to be. Think about which of the following ideas your audience would enjoy, or be creative and come up with a new, exciting activity. Be sure to tell us about your event and share your photos!

Purchase Carbon Offsets

There are several ways your company and your home can compensate for carbon emissions and energy use. Carbon offsets represent a reduction in emissions, through investment in renewable energy or reforestation. Many organizations and companies such as Carbon Fund and the Nature Conservancy offer carbon offsets.

Go Green When Shopping

Outfit your classroom, office, dorm, or home with eco-friendly, “green” accessories and supplies. Most office supplies stores offer items made from recycled and/or sustainable materials.

Hold a Contest

Organize a poster, art, photo, or poetry contest on your campus, in your office, or in your community that encourages people to celebrate geography in everyday life.

Volunteer for a Non-Profit Organization

Volunteer with your friends, classmates, coworkers, and neighbors for a day of service during Geography Awareness Week. Some activities you could include are reading to children at a local elementary school, cleaning up a nearby park, or planting a community garden.

Organize an International Meal

Use the Internet to find recipes for food from around the world. Organize a potluck dinner during Geography Awareness Week and encourage your friends, classmates, coworkers, or neighbors to bring foods from their own ethnic or cultural heritage.

Organize a GIS Day Event

GIS Day is the Wednesday of Geography Awareness Week. Organize your own GIS Day event to explain what GIS is and the importance of it. If you register your event at GISDay.com, you can receive free promotional materials to give out at the event.

Partner with a Local K-12 School

Consider pairing up with a classroom at a local school to participate in a service project, mapping or GIS activity, or to simply teach students the value of geography education.

Travel Abroad

College is the perfect time to travel or study abroad, be it for the summer, a semester, or the entire school year. Of course, families travel too! Experience a new culture and natural surroundings, get out of your comfort zone, and learn from others. Catch the travel bug and see where you end up!

Host a Salvage Sale

Organize a yard sale or end-of-the-year salvage event to get rid of unwanted furniture and items. Consider ways to involve local non-profit organizations and small businesses so that they can acquire furniture and office supplies cheaper than they otherwise would be able to.

Organize a Movie Night

Host a film screening that relates to geography. Invite coworkers, friends, classmates, and neighbors. Check out National Geographic Education's Geography film list for some ideas.

Host a Speaker Series

Find someone who has done something related to geography that is interesting or inspiring, or even just plain cool, and get her or him to speak to your class or group. Consider professionals, professors, a local business, authors, and explorers. If possible, put together a speaker series or panel of speakers.

Go WWOOF-ing

Love to travel? Like volunteering? Why not do both? World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) connects volunteers with owners of farms all around the globe. You select your destination and volunteer on a farm in exchange for room and board for as long as your heart desires. Visit the WWOOF homepage to learn more.

Pursue a Career in Geography

Explore careers in geography and GIS to further your interest in the field. The Association for American Geographers (AAG) and ESRI both provide resources on their websites to get you started, but be creative and find something that truly interests you!

Find an Explorer in Your State

Look for one of National Geographic’s Explorers from your state and find out how you can help with projects in your region.

Organize an Informal Meeting to Increase Geography Awareness

Encourage friends and peers to discuss geography-related topics in the news or projects they are currently working on that relate to geography. Informal settings such as brown-bag lunchtime discussions or geography-themed snack breaks can provide an opportunity for students to connect and engage one another.

Organize a Fieldtrip

Organize a class or family trip to a national park or nature center.

Apply Your GIS Skills to Give Back

Utilize GIS in your classroom, home, or office to solve real-world problems and provide actual benefits to your school, college or university, community, or an organization. This could be anything from tracking endangered species to identifying the best location for a new youth center.

Create a Green Living Program

Develop a "Green Living Program" at your school, college, university, home, or office to promote sustainable living. Make it a competition or reward system that encourages behaviors like switching off lights, biking, switching out old computers and lights with energy efficient ones, and composting. Colleges can work with their residential life departments to develop "Green Ambassadors" in every dormitory that help organize programs and get people excited about sustainability.

Partner with a College or University

Connect with students and professors from over 500 different college and university geography departments within the United States and Canada. Consider pairing up with a university geography department to participate in a service project, mapping or GIS activity, or to simply teach students the value of geography education.

Host a Contest

Celebrate the diversity of interesting ideas in your community by organizing a poster, art, photo, or poetry contest in your school that challenges students to capture the essence of that year’s Geography Awareness Week theme. Some suggestions:

  • Develop a contest specific to the theme, choosing just one specific aspect of the theme to focus on.
  • Host a school-wide or grade-wide contest. Display participants’ work in classrooms, hallways, lobbies, etc. Winners may be selected by a panel of teacher judges or by popular vote of the students.
  • Show the winning submissions, along with runners-up, in your local newspaper or on your school’s web site.
Are You Smarter Than a ____ (teacher, geography major, town official)?

Host a trivia night at a college or local school. Reach out to members of the community and get creative with picking teams. Pit professors against students or teachers against parents, and encourage teams to choose geography themed names. Come up with your own geographic questions, emphasizing different aspects of the year’s theme. Get local businesses to provide prizes, and donate a portion of any entry fees collected to a charitable organization.

Community Clean-Up

Rural, suburban, and urban communities all have a history of development and environmental change. At some point in the past, the land underneath your feet was untamed wilderness, and look at it today! Organize students to explore and research the geographic history of their own community.

Campus Race to Zero Waste

Learn about recycling in your state and organize an event to promote recycling on your campus or in your neighborhood, office, or city. Colleges can participate in Campus Race to Zero Waste, a friendly 8-week competition among colleges across the United States and Canada.

Practice Eco-Friendly Etiquette

There are several ways to decrease your environmental impact at home. From switching over to eco-friendly cleaning supplies to recycling, there are so many ways you can easily reduce your impact. Start with switching out old light bulbs and appliances or shopping at a local farmers’ market and encourage neighbors and friends to do the same.

Go Geo-caching or Earth-caching

Geo-caching is a high-tech scavenger hunt. Players use global positioning system (GPS) devices and clues to navigate to the locations of hidden treasures or “caches.” Earth-caching is similar to geo-caching, but rather than searching for hidden stores, participants attempt to identify the coordinates of places—usually unique landscape features such as ponds, rocky outcrops, or other geologic formations. Geo-caching and Earth-caching are great ways to enjoy the outdoors, explore new places, learn how to use GPS technology, and practice map-reading and navigation skills. To geo-cache or earth-cache, you’ll need a GPS receiver or a GPS-enabled smart phone. You’ll also need a map of the region you’ll be exploring. Check out Geocaching.com to get started.

Explore Local Environmental Change

Rural, suburban, and urban communities all have a history of development and environmental change. Organize students to explore and research the geographic history of their own community. Some suggestions:

  • Ask students to imagine what their neighborhood may have looked like 10, 25, 50, or even 100 years ago, and to draw what they think.
  • Have students explore their backyard or local area for clues of past residents, wildlife, and other artifacts.
  • Do students know older people who have lived in the neighborhood for many years? Suggest that the students interview such people, asking how the landscape and structure of the town have changed over their lifetimes. Ask if they have any old photographs depicting the community, and if they may be photocopied.
  • Have students check local libraries for historical photographs and information. The Internet may also be a good source for information and old photos.
  • Juxtapose old photographs with ones at the same location today, and note the changes.
  • Discuss the different elements of environmental change and development in the community over time. As a class, try to create a narrative throughout history of their town or city.
Organize a Geography Trivia Night

Host a geography quiz night. You could even make it a weekly or monthly event with clever themes for each quiz night, or simply host one incorporating the yearly theme for Geography Awareness Week. See our How to Host a Geogaphy Quiz Night guide to get started.

Collaborate with Others Around the World

Partner with another school or classroom to encourage collaboration and cross-cultural engagement. A number of platforms allow for this, such as ePals and iEarn International.

Sponsor an Explorer

Partner with National Geographic to sponsor a National Geographic Explorer. Go to here to meet the Explorers.

Media Credits

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National Geographic Education Staff
Sherilyn Bethoney
Last Updated

May 13, 2022

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