Introduction to Topographic Maps
Community
Roots Charter School, Brooklyn
Summer Research Program for Science Teachers
August 2010
Subject:
Earth Science
Grade Level: 10^{th}
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?
Objectives: SWBAT
create a topographic map
understand how a topographic map represents different elevations
 read topographic maps and interpret them
 have the foundations needed to further calculate gradient

Vocabulary: Topography, topographic map, isolines, contour lines, gradient, field value, elevation, distance, field value
Materials:
 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
 homework/worksheet
Lesson:
 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 minilesson
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 rulers
Have 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: InterconnectednessCommon Themes (Models) – Models are simplified representations of objects, structures, or systems used in analysis, explanation, interpretation, or design