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Smarty Pins – Google Maps, geography trivia, and video games

Google Maps. Geography trivia. And video games. Three of my favorite things. And now, they’re all together in one place.

Google’s new Smarty Pins. (Get it? Smarty Pants – Smarty Pins? You nutty Google engineers!)

Smarty Pins is basically a simple trivia game that asks questions with geo-tagged answers using the Google Maps interface.

You can play the default game which asks random questions from all of the six different categories. But you can also select a specific category that lets you focus on just what you want.

smarty pins categories

The process is pretty basic – Google asks you a question, the timer starts, you drag a Google Pin to the correct location, and click Submit Answer. The Googles helps a bit by starting each question in the correct general area – a question about the Andersonville Civil War prison drops you in southeastern United States rather than central Africa, for example. You have the option to zoom in or out and to move the map around.

Rather than simple points for correct answers, Smarty Pins uses miles as as a way to keep score. You start with 1000 miles. You get to keep the miles as long as you answer correctly. Answer incorrectly and the game subtracts however many miles you are from the right spot. You can earn extra miles for answering before the bonus timer goes off. You get to keep playing as long as you have miles left in your bank.

smarty pins correct location

You can get a hint if you want while the bonus timer is counting down. You get the hint automatically once the timer expires.

Brag a bit if you want once a game is over using Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

The problem, of course, is that the randomness of it all. Makes it difficult to actually use as an instructional tool for a specific history lesson. But seems like a good way to introduce / review geography skills and map tools.

The game does work on mobile devices but is a bit clunky on the iPad’s Safari browser.

Need more geography game goodness?

Try the very cool and fun Traveler IQ. Or go here to get seven geography games that align to the Common Core.

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