Teach the Earth > Introductory Courses > Activities > Wind River Eco-Challenge: A Virtual Excursion Exercise for Introducing Topographic Maps

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 activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the 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 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: May 22, 2008


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.

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Other Materials

Supporting references/URLs


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