Universe Cycle - Geography (2)
Post Lab 

  • Discovering how to read a globe.
  • Comparing maps and globes.
  • equator
  • latitude
  • longitude

Students make a puzzle map of the world.


The planet Earth is approximately spherical in shape. In terms of maps, this means that a globe most accurately portrays the shape of the Earth’s surface. The Earth’s shape also effects the appearance of latitude and longitude lines. As the cartoon globe above shows, latitude (East-West) lines remain parallel from the Equator to the poles. In contrast, longitude lines converge at the poles.

Flat maps distort the shape of the Earth because they are two dimensional projections of the real three dimensional surface. For example, a common flat map, called the Mercator projection, keeps lines of both latitude and longitude parallel. It thus distorts the areas on the map. For example a Mercator projection map makes Greenland look bigger than South America, when the opposite is really true. There are many different types of flat maps.


  1. Review latitude and longitude. Remind students that latitude lines run East-West, and longitude lines run North-South. Explain that these lines are the basis for locating where you are on the Earth’s surface.

  2. Show the students a globe and a flat map (or project the map examples on the following pages). Ask them to describe the differences between them. Point out that the globe is a much more accurate model of the real Earth, in terms of shape and distance. Have the students try to distinguish some of the ways that flat maps distort shapes on the "real" Earth. For instance, on a flat map, Greenland looks very large, often bigger than South America. In reality it is much smaller. Have the students look for other distortions. 
    The main objective is for students to look and compare different types of maps. You can compare and contrast any of the points of a globe on a flat map depending on your background and the interest of the students.

    You may want to use the following link to Hammond World Atlas Corp. who shows the different types of maps through animation.


  3. Have the students compare latitude and longitude lines on the globe and the different maps. They will see that longitude lines converge at the poles on the globe. Near the poles on the flat maps, they remain parallel, and are distorted.

    You may want to make a chart of the student ‘s observations.





horizontal lines, that are somewhat the same thickness

go from north to south pole, evenly space all over the Earth

flat map

horizontal lines that are thicker in the north and south region

equal lines, from north to south vertical

  1. You may want students to use the worksheet and put in longitude and latitude and then cut out their own puzzle of the world.

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