Showing posts with label Map Projections. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Map Projections. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

A Map Projection Game, Video, and Lesson Plans

Last week I shared a new Crash Course about geography. One of the first videos in that course tackles the question "what is a map?" Yesterday, through the Maps Mania blog, I learned about a fun quiz game that could be a good activity for students to complete after watching What is a Map? and before watching Can You Make an Accurate Map? That fun quiz game is called The Mind-Blowing Map Quiz and is hosted by BBC Bitesize. 

The Mind-Blowing Map Quiz is designed to help students understand how Mercator projection maps distort our view of the world. It does this by asking relational questions like "how much bigger is Australia than Alaska?" and "how close are Russia and the United States?" A few fun facts are thrown into the explanations of each answer. 

Applications for Education
Can You Make an Accurate Map? is a good video to show after students have played The Mind-Blowing Map Quiz. The video provides a concise explanation of why Mercator projection maps don't accurately represent the size of things near the poles but are none-the-less used in many applications.



For more ideas for lessons about map projections take a look at National Geographic's hands-on lesson plan for teaching map projections or this lesson from Leventhal Map (hosted by Boston Public Library) that incorporates the use of Google Earth.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Map Lessons from Mathigon

Last spring I wrote about Mathigon's Map Coloring Challenge. That's not the only map-based math lesson available from Mathigon. Mathigon's lesson on spheres, cones, and cylinders incorporates map projections. 

In Surface Area of a Sphere Mathigon includes an interactive diagram that illustrates the problem that cartographers have when trying to create maps of the world. The interactive diagram shows four map projections and the areas of the map that are distorted by each projection. Students can click on each of the map projections to see a comparison of an area on the 2D map to the same area on a globe. Overall, it's a good way for students to see how two dimensional world maps can distort the size and scale of an area. 

Mathigon's Map Coloring Challenge asks students to use as few colors as possible to color in all 50 U.S. states without having the same color touching two states at the same time. For example, if I color New Hampshire purple, I can't use purple on Vermont, Maine, New York, or Massachusetts but I could use purple on Pennsylvania.

On a related note the USGS offers a free map projections poster (link opens a PDF). You may also want to take a look at Projection Wizard as another tool for showing students how various projections distort the regions of the world. 

Applications for Education
Years ago I did a hands-on lesson with students in which they used strips of paper to create a globe that was then laid flat so that they could see the difficulty in creating an accurate 2D map of the world. Mathigon's Surface Area of a Sphere accomplishes a similar goal in an online format as does the Projection Wizard site mentioned above. 

Monday, August 3, 2020

Lessons on Map Projections

The maps pages and education pages of the USGS should be bookmarked by anyone who teaches geography. One of my go-to pages within the USGS education site is this collection of 27 ideas for teaching with topographic maps. In the list of lesson ideas you will find suggestions for lessons about typical geography topics like coordinates, scale, and map projections. The USGS offers a free map projections poster that you can use in conjunction with the lesson on map projections.

You can download hundreds of USGS maps for free from the USGS store. You can also visit the USGS topoView site to download historic maps. One of the ways that I like to use these maps is to overlay them on Google Earth imagery. This can be a good way to compare map projections and map content. This video shows you how to do that.



Projection Wizard is an interesting tool developed by Bojan Šavrič at Oregon State University. The purpose of Projection Wizard is to help cartographers select the best map projections for their projects. Projection Wizard is a more advanced tool than most high school geography courses would need. That said, I would use the Projection Wizard to have students discuss the flaws of  various map projections. We'd also talk about why a particular type of projection is better than another for different types of projects.