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Old maps never die, they just win contests

Old maps make a great tool for teaching history, but they're not much help in a geography class.

So to help strengthen geographic education, Rand McNally is offering $10,000 in maps, globes, and atlases to the K-12 school district, private school, or diocese that finds the oldest world wall map.

With schools facing tight budgets, many of them just don't have the money for accurate up-to-date maps, said John McIndoe, a spokesman for the Skokie, Ill.-based publisher.

"There are so many out-of-date maps in fairly large school systems that don't correctly show the world as it is today," he said.

Dennis R. DeCock, the vice president and general manager of Rand McNally's educational-publishing division, also cited the deplorable state of geography materials in classrooms.

"The best way to learn is with up-to-date materials," Mr. DeCock said.

Rand McNally will provide schools with a checklist of political shifts, name changes, and other clues to help teachers and students determine just how old their wall maps may be. Some of the things to look for, according to the checklist, are maps that refer to modern-day Iran as Persia or Cape Canaveral as Cape Kennedy.

And apparently, there are plenty of old maps still out there.

"Our representatives frequently dig out maps from school closets that are dated from the 1930s and '40s," said Mr. DeCock, who claims the oldest map he has seen in a school's possession was dated 1919.

"The maps are not really worth much," he said. "Maybe to an antique map collector, but not to us."

Every school that enters the Oldest Wall Map Hunt will receive a folded world map, and schools that send in an old map for verification will receive a map on a spring roller as a replacement.

The nationwide hunt for old maps kicks off Nov. 17, the beginning of National Geography Awareness Week; schools will have until Feb. 14 of next year to enter.

A winner will be announced in early April.

To request a kit with complete rules, entry forms, and other information, call Rand McNally at (800) 678-7263.

--ADRIENNE D. COLES

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