Tuesday, May 24, 2011
My first one came with a tiny red stamp, inked around the letter "A" next to George's head. I squinted at the slightly smeared, diminutive letters trying to make them out. "Track this Bill" they commanded. The URL for wheresgeorge.com teased me to check it out. My discovery was a bill that had been registered at a tracking site for United States Currency called Where's George.
The objective of this site is as simple as it sounds... to track where a U.S. Dollar Bill has been. A veritable answer to mother's age old chastisement "don't put that money in your mouth...you don't know where it's been!"
On every U.S. dollar bill in circulation is a 10- or 11-digit serial code that is unique to that bill. When you go to Where's George, you enter the bill's denomination ($1, $5, $10, etc.), bill series, the serial number, zip code and whether you have possession of the bill at that moment. The result is a record of travel for that specific bill.
The Where's George site has a registry of most active bills that will take you to a Bill Tracking Report. The Tracking Report shows Entry Time, Location, Travel Time, Distance, Average Speed, etc. of the bill. The page also has a dynamic Google Map associated with it that shows geographically the location of each logged point.
As a Social Studies teacher I felt this might be a GREAT, interesting and interactive activity for my students. I could instantly see the connection between this site and the Five Themes of Geography: Location, Place, Region, Movement, Human/Environment Interaction and how excited my students would be to make a real world connection with something as common and everyday as the U.S. Dollar.
A wonderful beginning of the year activity for students might be to have the students 'set a bill loose' into the system and see where it travels throughout the year. (Similar to Flat Stanley) Each student can bring in a dollar, register it on wheresgeorge.com and stamp it with a stamper. Another option is to gather bills that are already in the system and see where they've been AS WELL AS where they go when you spend them. After the bills have been logged, spend them on a class Bon Voyage Party and send them on their way!!