27 Ideas for Teaching With Topographic Maps

The USGS publishes approximately 57,000 different topographic maps covering the United States. Topographic maps show contour lines (elevation and landforms), hydrography (rivers, lakes, marshes), transportation (roads, trails, railroads, airports), vegetation, boundaries, survey markers, urban areas, buildings, and other features. Teachers from elementary to college levels can use topographic maps to enhance instruction in their science, math, geography, and history curricula. The USGS has an annotated list of 27 suggested classroom activities incorporating topographic maps. The annotations include each activity’s targeted grade level, time required, materials needed, and a description. Activities range from basic exercises teaching students how to read and work with topographic maps (e.g., Analyzing Physical Features of Topographic Maps, Looking at Streams and Rivers on Topographical Maps) to more complex activities exploring geography concepts (e.g., Geographic Coordinate Systems—Convergence, Absolute vs. Relative Location, Site vs. Situation). Other activities provide opportunities for students to make their own maps (e.g., Creating Maps From Aerial Photographs, Construct 3D Models, Create Aspect Maps).

Full Link: https://education.usgs.gov/lessons/teachingtopomaps.html

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