Lesson: Scaling the Map

Contributed by: Adventure Engineering, Colorado School of Mines

Portion of a map showing a grid and distance scale. Each grid side is 10 km.
Students examine maps and practice scaling them
copyright
Copyright © Adventure Engineering, Colorado School of Mines

Summary

Continuing the Asteroid Impact challenge, students learn how to determine map distances and areas using a map scale. They also get a better feel for how much an area represents on a map in relation to the sizes they are suggesting for their underground caverns.

Engineering Connection

Many types of engineers - civil, geological, petroleum, environmental - must understand maps, map reading and map creation as a way to communicate information and help people find solutions to all sorts of challenges.

Pre-Req Knowledge

Some knowledge of length, width, area and volume; multiplication.

Learning Objectives

  • Use a map scale to determine distances between cities and the size of areas on maps.
  • Compare map areas gained in this lesson to areas from a previous lesson.
  • Relate map areas and lengths to a real-world situation.

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Students learn to identify the common features of a map. Through the associated activities, students learn how to use a compass to find bearing to an object on a map and in the classroom.

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What Is GIS?

In this lesson, students learn the value of maps, how to use maps, and the basic components of a GIS. They are also introduced to numerous GIS applications.

Middle School Lesson
Scaling the Map

Students learn how to determine map distances and areas using the map scale. They get a feel for how much an area represents on the map in relation to the size they are suggesting for their underground caverns to shelter the Alabraska population.

Middle School Activity
By Land, Sea or Air

Students learn that navigational techniques change when people travel to different places — land, sea, air and space. For example, an explorer traveling by land uses different navigation methods and tools than a sailor or an astronaut.

Middle School Lesson

Educational Standards

Each TeachEngineering lesson or activity is correlated to one or more K-12 science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) educational standards.

All 100,000+ K-12 STEM standards covered in TeachEngineering are collected, maintained and packaged by the Achievement Standards Network (ASN), a project of D2L (www.achievementstandards.org).

In the ASN, standards are hierarchically structured: first by source; e.g., by state; within source by type; e.g., science or mathematics; within type by subtype, then by grade, etc.

  • Fluently add, subtract, multiply, and divide multi-digit decimals using the standard algorithm for each operation. (Grade 6) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Solve problems involving scale drawings of geometric figures, including computing actual lengths and areas from a scale drawing and reproducing a scale drawing at a different scale. (Grade 7) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Develop and communicate an evidence based scientific explanation around one or more factors that change Earth's surface (Grade 5) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Analyze and interpret data identifying ways Earth's surface is constantly changing through a variety of processes and forces such as plate tectonics, erosion, deposition, solar influences, climate, and human activity (Grade 5) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Gather, analyze, and communicate data that explains Earth's plates, plate motions, and the results of plate motions (Grade 7) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
Suggest an alignment not listed above

Introduction/Motivation

Now that student teams know what cavern area is required, they translate that information to a map to see how big the cavern is compared to the area of the state of Alabraska.

Lesson Background and Concepts for Teachers

Refresh knowledge on how to use a map scale.

Associated Activities

  • Scaling the Map - Students use the provided maps with scales to determine distances and areas, towards finding possible locations for underground caverns to shelter the Alabraska population.

Attachments

Assessment

  • Review students' answers on the Scaling the Map Worksheet to gauge their mastery of the subject matter.
  • As a concluding quiz, have students estimate the distance from two cities, such as London to Moscow ,or the area of the U.S. on different maps.

Lesson Extension Activities

  • On a U.S. map, use the scale to determine the area of any state.
  • Find the largest country in the world and use the scale to determine its size.
  • Find the height dimension of one of the tallest buildings in the world. For example, the Sears Tower in Chicago is 1,350 feet tall. If you were asked to build a model of that skyscraper using a scale: of 1 inch = 100 feet, how tall would the model be? (Answer: 13.5 inches tall.)

Copyright

© 2013 by Regents of the University of Colorado; original © 2005 Colorado School of Mines

Supporting Program

Adventure Engineering, Colorado School of Mines

Acknowledgements

Adventure Engineering was supported by National Science Foundation grant nos. DUE 9950660 and GK-12 0086457. However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policies of the National Science Foundation, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government.

Last modified: June 15, 2017

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