Universe Cycle - Geography (2)
Pre Lab 

  • Comparing a map with a photo.
  • Contrasting different types of maps.
  • atlas
  • map
  • photo

Students look at different kinds of maps


Hopefully students have learned that maps are very important. Maps are representations of the Earth's surface. Maps are abstractions because they show simplified versions of surface features. They are designed to show detailed information about a limited number of topics. Maps are thus not pictures of the Earth’s surface. A map can show many things that a picture cannot show. Maps look different in many ways from a photograph of the Earth. Most maps are two dimensional representations of the three dimensional surface of the Earth, and are drawn on paper. Increasingly, however, computers are providing us with three dimensional virtual maps.


road map
bus route map
topographic map
map of parks
map of cities
vegetation maps
historical maps
"war" maps
map to friends house
map to different businesses
treasure map
star and Solar System maps


uc2g08.jpg (44532 bytes)
A political map of France
(click on picture to enlarge)

  1. Explain what a map is to the students. Emphasize to them that maps are usually some kind of representation of the Earth, or part of its surface, and that maps have a particular purpose. If you have an atlas available, this is a good time to show it to the class. Explain that it is a collection of maps to help people locate different features or places.
  2. Have the students list the maps with which they are familiar. They may think of unusual sources, such as maps in video games. List the maps on the board.
  3. Have the students look at many different representations of the Earth. Be sure to include maps, photographs, and a globe. Ask the students to find the map, globe, or picture that best represents the Earth. Unless you have an extraordinary flat map, the globe is the most realistic. However, if you are trying to find something in a city, a globe is not detailed enough. Flat maps, globes, and photos all have their place.
  4. Ask the students to bring a "map" from home that they would like to share with the class. Tell them that if they do not have a road map, they can get a map from a newspaper, telephone book, or sometimes advertisements from a local business. You may wish to create a map display with the material that the students bring to class.

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