Wind River Eco-Challenge: A Virtual Excursion Exercise for Introducing Topographic Maps

Jacki Klancher and Suki Smaglik

Central Wyoming College
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This classroom activity simulates an eco-challenge course in the Wind River Mountains, which are close to our campus. Our goal is that students approach their recreational adventures more prepared than they would with out having done this exercise.

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This activity is used in introductory geoscience courses. See the course profile for a course that uses this activity.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students should be introduced to the basic parts of USGS quadrangles and the concept of topography before beginning this exercise.

How the activity is situated in the course

This is a stand alone exercise that prepares students for future exercises using topographic maps.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Our goal is to provide a fun exercise for students to learn what a topographic map is and how to use it.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

topographic map reading; 3D visualization from a 2D model; decision making

Other skills goals for this activity

working in groups

Description of the activity/assignment

This virtual eco-challenge requires students to learn about the features of topographic maps, ground navigation and land forms. It is a paper exercise that simulates a real outdoor adventure into the Wind River Mountains and must be used with real USGS quadrangles. This exercise can be easily re-framed into your local context. An urban example might be taking a drive to the country (or other local favorite) and having a car breakdown. Then, getting lost and having to navigate the way home.

Determining whether students have met the goals

There is an assessment built into the activity. If they complete each step correctly, they will receive the correct code at the end of the exercise.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Teaching materials and tips

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Supporting references/URLs

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