Introduction to Topographic Maps
Community Roots Charter School, Brooklyn
Summer Research Program for Science Teachers
Subject: Earth Science
Grade Level: 10th
Unit: Landforms and Topographic Maps
Duration: 1 period (~45 minutes)
Aim: How can we use a model mountain to understand and generate a topographic map?
create a topographic map
understand how a topographic map represents different elevations
- read topographic maps and interpret them
Vocabulary: Topography, topographic map, isolines, contour lines, gradient, field value, elevation, distance, field value
- modeling clay (enough for either each student or pairs of students)
- floss or fishing line or thin wire
- graph paper or white paper
- colored pencils
- class notes
- In your own words, how would you describe what a slope is?
- How would you go about calculating the slope of a mountain (hint: think about math)?
Discuss à turn and talk to someone next to you and share answers. Randomly call on a few pairs of students and write their answers on the board.
Clay Activity and Class Notes (25 minutes) – while going through the mini-lesson
lecture and allowing students to write their notes and see examples/images, insert the model mountain activity’s procedures in places where appropriate.
à HERE you can begin the model mountain activity (see below for procedure)
On your map:
Model Mountain Procedure:
Discussion (5 minutes) -- allow students to use their notes as a reference to
answer the following questions. Be sure they use the new vocabulary terms!
Worksheet / Homework (10 minutes)
- Students begin their worksheet, which is also their homework
- Go around the room to assess student understanding and clarify any questions
- May need to provide more colored pencils and rulersHave students use their clay to model the mountain in worksheet and cut into pieces to compare with paper
New York State Standards:
Standard 1: Analysis, Inquiry, and Design - Students will use mathematical analysis, scientific inquiry, and engineering design, as appropriate, to pose questions, seek answers, and develop solutions.
Standard 6: Interconnectedness-Common Themes (Models) – Models are simplified representations of objects, structures, or systems used in analysis, explanation, interpretation, or design