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Putting Learning on the Map

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A one-acre map of the United States, books five feet tall, and a futuristic classroom using laser-disc video technology are among the current or planned attractions at Places of Learning, a new visitors' center in Orlando, Fla.,

Developed by the publishing house Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, the center--which opened Oct. 15--is "an attempt on our part to make available to our community and to the people who come to central Florida the things we work on on a scale they can handle," said Roland J.B. Goddu, the company's director of educational research and development.

The U.S. map--an acre of concrete complete with mountains, rivers, and lakes--was constructed to give visitors who walk over it "a sense of how maps are made," Mr. Goddu said.

The 15 oversized children's books open to display nearly life-size illustrations of such characters as Mary Poppins and Jonathan Swift's Lilliputians. The size of the illustrations helps children "imagine what it is like to be a character in a book," Mr. Goddu said. Among the books included in the display are Gulliver's Travels, The Little Prince, Mary Poppins, Treasure Island, and The Wind in the Willows.

Visitors can find books that are a little easier to take home at the Parents' Store, which Mr. Goddu says contains 3,700 children's books from many publishers, along with puzzles, games, and toys.

In addition to offering such old teaching favorites as books and maps, Places of Learning plans to feature a model classroom that shows how laser-disc technology can be applied to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic in new ways, Mr. Goddu said. That exhibit is expected to be ready in 1986.

The model-classroom technology will, for instance, enable a teacher to "physically show verbs as motion, nouns as things, and adjectives and adverbs as changing them," according to Mr. Goddu.--sh

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