# Measuring the Campus Green

Initial Publication Date: May 9, 2012

## Summary

In this activity, the students measure the size of one-quarter acre and use that information to measure the area of a campus green. Students are told the number of square feet in a quarter acre, and are then provided compasses, a GPS unit, measuring tapes and marking flags. We then proceed to a large campus green and without any additional formal instructions they work in groups to devise an approach for plotting corners of a square that measures one-quarter acre. Once they work through this process we return to the lab where the coordinates are plotted on a large-scale map and the area of the campus green is measured using a dot grid.

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## Learning Goals

The primary objective is for the students to develop proficiency in the field: understand measurement techniques, synthesize data collected in the field, and transfer that data from a field book to a map.

## Methods of Geoscience

Methods are not directly addressed in this exercise. Rather, I allow students to struggle with devising a technique for taking consistent field measurements with a measuring tape.

## Context for Use

This is completed with a sophomore-level college class which usually has 15 students enrolled. This is the first field assignment for most of these students. The assignment takes place over two class sessions--one in the field, one in the lab. The are no special skills needed and it should be easy to adapt to other settings.

## Description and Teaching Materials

In this activity, the students measure the size of one-quarter acre and use that information to measure the area of a campus green. Students are told the number of square feet in a quarter acre, and are then provided compasses, a GPS unit, measuring tapes and marking flags. We then proceed to a large campus green and without any additional formal instructions they work in groups to devise an approach for plotting corners of a square that measures one-quarter acre. Once they work through this process we return to the lab where the coordinates are plotted on a large-scale map and the area of the campus green is measured using a dot grid.

## Teaching Notes and Tips

The biggest difficulty students encounter is measuring a square that has sides with uniform length. Eventually someone figures out that they need to measure diagonally.

## Assessment

I have the calculated area of the campus green. The students' grades are calculated on how close their measurement is to the actual measure using percent error.

## References and Resources

I do not utilize any additional resources for this exercise.