Topographic Maps: How steep is it?

This week, students became expert topographers and learned all about topographic maps. Topographic maps are a way to represent the three-dimensional features of a landscape on a two-dimensional surface (a map) by not just showing locations, but also by showing the elevation changes of the land. The varying elevations of an area are shown using contour lines, which connect areas of equal elevation.

Students had the opportunity to make a model of a landform using Play-Doh and slice it up into segments to create a topographic map of their model. They then swapped maps with another group and had to analyze it to identify easy and challenging hikes up a mountain.

Some classes may have also had a chance to explore the topography of their neighborhoods using government maps.

Work with your student on the extension activity and ask your student to show you how to interpret a “topo” map of their hand!

Mapas Topográficos

Esta semana los estudiantes aprendieron sobre mapas topográficos y se volvieron expertos topógrafos. Los mapas topográficos son una manera de representar estructuras tridimensionales en un mapa de dos dimensiones. No solo señalando puntos geográficos sino también mostrando los cambios de elevación del terreno. Estas variaciones de elevación son mostradas usando líneas de contorno las que conectan áreas de igual elevación.

Los estudiantes tuvieron la oportunidad de fabricar un modelo geográfico tridimensional usando plastilina. Este fue cortado en segmentos y con ellos crearon un mapa topográfico de su modelo. Luego, intercambiaron sus mapas con otros grupos y tuvieron que analizaros para identificar las maneras más fáciles y difíciles de escalar la montaña.

Trabaja con tu hijo o hija en la actividad de extensión y pregúntale cómo interpretar el mapa topográfico de su mano.

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Author

Lauren Koppel

Lauren earned a Bachelor’s degree with a double major of Biology and Psychology from Clark University, and a Master of Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. During her undergraduate years, she worked in a evolutionary neurobiology lab that studied the neural development of annelids (marine worms), with a focus on the sox family of genes. Lauren loves learning about how the world works (including everything from biology to chemistry to engineering), and is passionate about sharing that knowledge and enthusiasm with others. In the past, she has interned at the Museum of Science, where she educated learners of all ages through hands-on activities, games, and experiments. Other science education organizations with which Lauren has worked include The People’s Science, EurekaFest, and Eureka! of Girls Inc. of Worcester. Currently she lives in Boston, where devotes her free time to playing Quidditch, reading sci-fi novels, playing her ukulele, and enjoying all the culinary delights the city has to offer.

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