What Can Maps Show? What Can Maps Show?
  • To introduce students to the various mapping resources available.

  • To understand how maps can be used to communicate different ideas and types of information

  • To gain cursory understanding of scale

  • To interpret symbols on a map and gain relevant information for an area



Google Mashups
Break students into pairs and have them go to http://googlemapsmania.blogspot.com/.  Explain the setup of the website: the main articles are part of the blog and explain the latest mashups that have been created.  The links on the right are divided according to different categories and lead to various maps that people have created and customized using Google maps.  Have the students locate, research, and report on a map that they find interesting.  The topic can be any of their choosing, but they must be able to report back to the group on: a) the primary theme, b) how that theme is communicated (how symbols or features are represented), c) how that particular map could potentially be utilized, d) why it is important.

Allow the group 30 minutes to research and record their findings including the URL then report their findings to the rest of the group.  The instructor should emphasize that the lesson should be learned collaboratively and that students should communicate with members around them, asking for and giving help where needed.

Map Safari
The purpose of this exercise is to learn about some of the different mapping resources that are available on the Internet and to begin to understand how different maps can be used to show different things.

Go to http://plasma.nationalgeographic.com/mapmachine/ and make sure that the map is set to the “Road Map” tab located at the top of the map.

Make sure that the legend box is checked at the bottom right hand corner of the screen.

Zoom into the United States by clicking on the left mouse button on the portion of the map that you want to focus on. 

  • How many times do you have to click until the city of Memphis is represented on the map?  5

  • Look at the scale bar located at the bottom left corner of the map.  About how far is it from Memphis to Jackson, MS?  About 200 miles

  • Roughly, what is the population of Springfield, IL?  Over 2 million

Zoom down to where you can see your neighborhood (you may have to re-center the map by clicking and holding with the left mouse button and dragging the map to a new position)

  • What types of places can you see on the map?  How are they represented?

Click on the tab at the top that’s labeled “More Theme Maps” and choose a different type of map to apply to the Memphis area (you may have to zoom out to the state or national level to have the information show up). 

  • What’s different about this map compared with the street map?  What does it tell you about the area?

Google Earth

  • Which Congressional district is Memphis in?  Who is our representative?  9th; Steve Cohen

  • What is located at about 35°07’20” latitude and 90°01’44” longitude (Hint: make sure the Google Earth Community layer is turned on)?  What’s significant about this place?  Elmwood Cemetery

  • What is located at 942 Crump Blvd (Hint: make sure the Dining Layer is turned on)?  How far is it from this point to the corner of Vance and Orleans?  How far is that in km?  Al’s Tasty Burger Inn; .67 miles; 1.08 km

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Last Updated: 12/4/11