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Passport

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5-8 Classroom Ideas
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Review our online feature about Genghis Khan, as well as the articles and map supplement in the December 1996 and February 1997 issues of NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC magazine. If possible, share them with your students.
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Packing for the Field
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Discuss Mongolia with your students, particularly its geographic location in Central Asia and the differences between life in Mongolia and life in your hometown. Roads are scarce on the vast Mongolian steppe. Ask your students to imagine the challenges of navigating from place to place without familiar roads. What sorts of landmarks might nomads use as they migrate with their flocks?
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Photographer James Stanfield and writer Mike Edwards, who collaborated on the articles about the great khans for NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, spoke with National Geographic Online about the challenges that faced them in traveling through Mongolia. A photographer must come equipped with cameras, lenses, lights, tripods, auxiliary equipment such as light meters, and, of course, film. A writer can travel much lighter—pens and notebooks aplenty or a laptop computer. But even a writer requires a few changes of clothes and other provisions for an exotic locale.
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Ask your students to prepare a checklist of supplies for a lengthy trip to a place like Mongolia. They could pretend, in fact, that they’re on assignment for NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC. First, they might list all the things they must have to survive and to travel from place to place. After they’ve completed their lists, ask them if they anticipated surprise difficulties, such as a breakdown of their vehicle. Did they remember to arrange for an interpreter or bring a dictionary to help them communicate with local people? Did they bring items that could be used to barter for goods they might require far from any cities? Or did they pack too much, perhaps, listing bulky or heavy items for which they might not really have much use?
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Ask your students to estimate the weight of every item on their traveling list. If you bring a scale into your classroom, they could actually weigh different items. Then define a maximum weight for all of their clothing and gear, and ask them to tally their inventory to see if they’re above or below that limit. If above it, tell them they must omit items until they are below the threshold. In the end, have them discuss the criteria that they used.
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Is it possible to be prepared for anything one might encounter in the field? Veteran NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC journalists will tell you that an essential talent is the ability to fashion something from materials at hand.
 
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