The topic of today was topographic maps. We started the discussion about maps in general and students shared their own experiences with maps. We talked about different types of maps and what they can be used for. Then we read together a book from Dr. Seuss series that introduced us to many map related terms and to different kinds of maps including topographic maps. We learned what the topographic maps depict and how.
To better understand how a flat, two-dimensional map can depict a three-dimensional surface we did a demonstration with potato hills. It was basically a half of a potato with a valley carved into it that served as a representation of hills and a valley. The potato was sliced into layers and each layer was traced on a piece of paper to make a topographic map of the potato hills. We then described the resulting map, learned what contour lines are and what they mean. Afterwards all students made their own topographic map of potato hills of their choice.
In the next part of the lesson we observed a topographic map of the Big Island of Hawaii. We identified the mountains on the island and then we worked in groups to make a 3-D model of the island from Play-Doh. We spread some Play-Doh on the table and cut out the shape of the island, then used different colors of Playdoh to cut out higher elevations. All groups made a great model of the Big Island!