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Topographic Maps

Lisa Walsh
,
The University of Maryland
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This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Collection

Resources in this top level collection a) must have scored Exemplary or Very Good in all five review categories, and must also rate as “Exemplary” in at least three of the five categories. The five categories included in the peer review process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.



This page first made public: Jun 30, 2010

Summary

This geology lab is designed to teach students the basic skills needed to read, construct, and interpret topographic maps. The goal of this lab is to help students build direct connections between the topography and volcanic history of Mt. St. Helens.

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Context

Audience

This activity was designed for use in college-level introductory physical geology laboratories for for non-science majors. The class size unusually consists of around 25 students working in groups of 2-3 students. Most students complete this lab is 2-3 hours.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Some basic background and understanding of extrusive igneous rocks formation may be useful, but can be taught during this lab if needed.

How the activity is situated in the course

This activity is part of a series of introductory laboratory exercises but also works well as a stand-alone exercise.

Goals

Content/concepts goals for this activity

Learn to create a topographic map
Create a topographic profile
Interpret important topographic map features
Experience visualizing topography in 3-D using digital data

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Visualize a 2-D map in 3-D
Measure bearings in degrees for topographic map navigation
Measure of length, and calculation of relief and slope from a topographic map
Learn relation of map scale to the real world

Other skills goals for this activity

Understand history of volcanic deformation of Mt. Saint Helens

Description of the activity/assignment

This geology lab is designed to teach students the basic skills needed to read, construct, and interpret topographic maps. The goal of this lab is to help students build direct connections between the topography and volcanic history of Mt. St. Helens.

The lab is split into four sections. The first section aids students in the construction of a simple topographic map of the pyramid of Khafre. The second section introduces students to basic topographic map features. The third section contains a series of questions and calculations students can complete by examining the USGS topographic map of Mt. St. Helens. The final section enables students to visualize Mt. St. Helens in 3D and make interpretations about the history of both the 1980 eruption and its recent volcanic activity.

Determining whether students have met the goals

This is a graded lab. A point distribution (out of 100 points) and answers to each lab question are included in the answer key.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Download teaching materials and tips

Other Materials

Supporting references/URLs

A Volcano Rekindled: The Renewed Eruption of Mount St. Helens, 2004–2006
http://pubs.usgs.gov/pp/1750/

Rebuilding Mount St. Helens
http://pubs.usgs.gov/sim/2006/2928/

A New Perspective on Mount St. Helens—Dramatic Landform Change and Associated Hazards at the Most Active Volcano in the Cascade Range
http://pubs.usgs.gov/sim/3008/

Historic Digital Elevation Models (DEMs)
http://ned.usgs.gov/Ned/historic.asp

USGS Fact Sheet: Mount St. Helens – From the 1980 Eruption to 2000
http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2000/fs036-00/

Geologic Map of the Sasquatch Steps Area, North Flank of Mount St. Helens, Washington
http://geopubs.wr.usgs.gov/i-map/i2463/

360 ° Panoramic View of Mount St. Helens Crater
http://www.panoramas.dk/fullscreen6/f34-Mt-St-Helens.html

Teacher's Corner – Mt. Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument
http://www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/mshnvm/education/teachers-corner/library/nasa-aster-series.shtml

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument
http://www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/mshnvm/

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