June 1, 2000 – The Orange County Register

A SQUARE WORLD: 120 squares make up this quilt done for a school class.
EUGENE GARCIA//The Orange County Register
BREA — Drew Hallet, 11, didn’t know where Tasmania was. And Zaneta Camerino, 10, had heard of Nigeria, but couldn’t find it on a map.

That was before Ro Sloane came along.

The volunteer for Marilyn Yates’ fifth-grade class at Mariposa Elementary School drew on her passion for quilting to help students learn to love geography.

The far-reaching project involved the Internet, dozens of donated quilting squares and, finally, a quilt reflecting the entire effort.

“I wanted the kids to know there were different cultures out there,” said Sloane, who makes quilts for her family.

Sloane discovered a quilting group while surfing the Internet in the fall. Quilters were swapping 3-inch squares for a 2,000-square millennium quilt.

She posted a request for quilters to send “signature” squares to the class.

“We began receiving them immediately,” Sloane recalled. “You wouldn’t believe the kindness of quilters.”

The students pinned the squares on a large map. By spring, more than 120 squares crowded the map.

Many of them came with biographies about their lands of origin — including Tasmania, Sweden, England and Nigeria.

“It was neat to see all the squares,” said Amanda Rumble, 10.

She and classmate Emily Hagelberg sorted squares as they came in.

Amanda said the Australia square helped her complete a report.

Emily opened the Tasmania square.

“She (the quilter) sent a card with a rat on it,” she said.

Yates said the effort helped her students learn geography better than ever.

“It was the first time the kids realized Mexico wasn’t a state,” she said.

Sloane has since had the squares stitched into a quilt that covers the front of the classroom.