Using Topographic Maps
This activity has benefited from input from faculty educators beyond the author through a review and suggestion process.
This review took place as a part of a faculty professional development workshop where groups of faculty reviewed each others' activities and offered feedback and ideas for improvements. To learn more about the process On the Cutting Edge uses for activity review, see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.
This page first made public: Apr 30, 2008
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
How the activity is situated in the course
Content/concepts goals for this activity
1. Given any topographic map, be able to locate and describe the major components of the map, such as the quad name, fractional scale, bar scale, contour interval, magnetic declination, date of publication, date of topographic base information;
2. find the altitude, within a contour interval, of a given point;
3. find the horizontal distance and vertical separation between two points on the map;
4. calculate an area on the map (using the digitizer);
5. calculate the slope of a given surface;
6. draw a topographic profile across any area of the map, or draw a stream profile;
7. map and measure the drainage basin for a point on a stream or river;
8. develop hypotheses of the origin of certain geomorphic relationships expressed on a topographic map (and test them!);
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Other skills goals for this activity
Description of the activity/assignment
Designed for a geomorphology course
Addresses student fear of quantitative aspect and/or inadequate quantitative skills
Determining whether students have met the goals
1) a brief introduction to the problem (including your hypotheses)
2) a description of the methods you employed to test your hypotheses
3) a description of the results of your measurements (including an error analysis)
4) and a short discussion of your findings relative to your hypotheses.
The text for each write-up must be on one page (single spaced, 11 pt font, 1 inch margins). The report may have as many figures (maps, profiles, graphs, etc) as needed, but they should be cleanly drafted, clearly labeled (with a caption explaining what each shows), and numbered (Figure 1, Figure 2, etc).
Student reports are graded using the "Topo Lab Grading Rubric" included below.
Download teaching materials and tips
- Activity Description/Assignment (Microsoft Word 32kB Apr30 08)
- Instructors Notes (Microsoft Word 24kB Apr30 08)