Topographic Maps: Integrated Florida River project

Kim Hannula
Fort Lewis College
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This fairly traditional topographic maps lab uses local maps as examples. It is intended to prepare students for a group research project later in the semester.

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Introductory earth systems science course (see course profile), introductory environmental geology course.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

None - first lab of the semester.

How the activity is situated in the course

This lab is the first in a sequence of labs and exercises that culminates in the collection and interpretation of water quality data along the Florida River. (See the activity description for the Plotting Florida River Data Using Excel.) The students will visit one of the sites used as examples in this lab, and will analyze data from all of the sites.
See an overview of this project and find descriptions for each of the activities on the Florida River overview page.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Interpretation of topographic maps.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Other skills goals for this activity

Unit conversions, working in groups.

Description of the activity/assignment

This lab has two purposes. First, it introduces students to topographic maps (including latitude/longitude, map scales, contour intervals, and relief). Second, it introduces students to a river system that they will be studying throughout the semester, and begins preparing students to collect and analyze data from the field. The topographic maps are used to look at topographic characteristics of the river, such as its gradient and its longitudinal profile.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Labs are graded based on whether the student answers fall within a reasonable range of values.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Teaching materials and tips

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