Teach the Earth > Introductory Courses > Activities > Campus Map Scale

Campus Map Scale

Carrie Davis Todd
Worcester State 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 15, 2008


Students are given a map of the campus and asked to devise a method to determine the map scale. The method for determining scale is not prescribed, requiring the students to work in small groups to brainstorm a suitable method. Rulers and tape measures are provided for students to measure distances on campus on the map, but the exact method is left up to the students.

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Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

This activity is often done in the first week of class so students have just been introduced to the concept of scale. Students should be able to perform basic mathematical operations.

How the activity is situated in the course

This is a stand-alone activity contained within a single class period.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Students should gain a better understanding of what scale is and how it is determined.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Students will create a method for determining scale on a campus map without a prescribed set of instructions.

Other skills goals for this activity

Description of the activity/assignment

Students are given an outline map of the campus with no scale indicated. They are to work in small groups to determine the scale. Although rules and tape measures are provided, students are given no instruction on how to best determine the scale and are tasked with devising their own methodology. Students write their scales on the blackboard and we finish the class with a discussion of their various methodologies, sources of error, and why there is some variation among their results.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Students are evaluated based upon their methodology and the scale they determined. Their scale does not need to be perfect, but their steps should make sense.

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