6. Topo Tour - Getting Ready

Getting Ready

  1. Get a 7 and 1/2 minute USGS topo map for the neighborhood surrounding the school.
  2. Walk, bike or drive the watershed yourself.
    • Identify interesting geographical features on the map. Look for hills, ridges, cliffs, valleys, stream beds, etc, anywhere you can observe distinctive topographic features with abrupt changes in elevation.
    • Visit these places to see if they can be observed from public areas (sidewalks, parks, parking lots, etc.) making notes as you go. Pick the 3 best places to visit on your walk.
  3. Make a copy of the USGS topo map for each student. You don’t need to copy the entire map. Size the map to include your school, the nearest creek, and the geographical features you will be visiting on your watershed walk. Ideally, include the boundaries of your local watershed. For some watersheds, this may not be possible. In this case, make 2 copies of the map using the enlarge/reduce feature of the copier. On one, include the entire watershed. On the other, zoom in on your school and the areas you plan to walk.
  4. Adapt the Topo Tour worksheet for your watershed. Currently, all references are to Glen Echo Creek in the 94611 zip code in Oakland, CA. You will want students to label a few major landmarks including your school, any local parks, perhaps a nearby grocery store and some major roads.
  5. Make a copy of the Topo Tour worksheet for each student.
  6. Make overhead copies of simplified topo maps to show students examples of the geographical features you want them to be able to identify. Use the maps your students created or see the Sources section below for other maps to use.
  7. Collect other topo maps for comparison.