Click a term to initiate a search.
6. Topo Tour - Background
It is important to show students why a topographic map is useful in the real world, and not just as a classroom exercise. Students tend to be familiar with reading regular road maps. It’s important to show students that when contour lines are overlaid on a regular map, information about the topographical landscape is revealed in the patterns among the swirls and squiggles of the contour lines.
The way I conduct my classes is first by showing my students a topo map of the neighborhood immediately surrounding the school then taking them on a walk that highlights the changes in local geography including a hill, a ridge, and a creek-carved valley. Each of these geographical features are important for geologists and other scientists to be able to recognize on a topo map. In my classes, the watershed walk was combined with the Sediment Study Project. Different classes went to different study sites along the creek (source, mid-stream, and mouth) to observe the flow of water and collect sediment samples. On our way there, we plotted a course that would take us by interesting geographical features that can be identified on the map. Before heading back, the students plotted a return route that minimized sudden elevation changes. The precise routes and features to visit will depend on your own local geography. Suggestions are included within the lesson plan below.
If a walk through your neighborhood is not possible, do the classroom portion only.