Navigating my Hawai i Series: Topographic Maps

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1 Ke ala o Kūlilikaua Grade Level 9-12 Concepts Topographic mapping Duration 45 Minutes Source Material NARS 4-H Club USGS Vocabulary Cartographer Contour Interval Contour Lines Topography Topographic Map Elevation Map Scale Navigating my Hawai i Series: Topographic Maps Summary Students will investigate topographical maps and how to use them by creating a topographic map of a local geologic feature. Objectives Students will be able to identify the difference between a regular map and a topographic map. Students will be able to read a topographic map using contour lines, colors, symbols, and scale bars. Materials Molding clay (Playdoh or Fun Dough) - 1 Small tub per student pair Dental floss - 1 Twelve inch piece per student pair Pencil - 1 per student White paper - 1 Sheet per student pair Printed Photo of Geographic Feature (see teacher prep) - 1 per student pair Print Trekking Hawai i Island Worksheet- 1 per student Print Geologic Feature: Pu u Wa awa a Worksheet - 1 per student USGS Topographic Map Symbols - 1 per student Making Connections We are all familiar with maps. They are those large folded pieces of paper we pull out when we just can t seem to find our way. We use physical maps less and less since the technology of Global Positioning System (GPS) devices have become so commonplace in our everyday lives, GPS capabilities are now on most cell phones, cameras, and newer vehicles. Whether it be printed or digital, maps serve a very important purpose, from getting us to point A to point B to getting us un-lost, or to simply illustrate the contours, mountains, depressions, and slope of the land we are standing on. Teacher Prep for Activity 1. Print Photo of a Geographic Feature - For this activity it will be beneficial to use a local geographic feature that the students can identify with. The geographical feature chosen should be a prominent, easilyidentifiable feature such as an island, a mountain such as Mauna Loa or Mauna Kea, or another interesting feature such as Waipi o Valley, or Pu u Wa awa a as in the example provided. Print photographs of feature from as many angles as possible. 2. If you do not plan to use the provided geological feature (Pu u Wa awa a) you will need to create a worksheet similar to Geologic Feature: Pu u Wa awa a Worksheet.

2 For example: The tallest peak on Hawai i Island is Mauna kea measured at 13, 796 feet from sea level, on the other hand Pu u Huluhulu measured at 200 feet from base to peak. Optional: Research how and when this geological feature was formed. Was it formed volcanically like Pu u Wa awa a? or through years of water and wind erosion like Waipi o valley? Print this information on the back of the geological photo print and use as a discussion point. Ask students for ideas as to how it may have formed before passing out the card. 3. Print Trekking Hawai i Island Worksheet, Topography of Pu u Wa awa a Handout, (1 per student). Print Handout titled Topography of Pu u Wa awa a or find a topographic map to use for instruction. Background Topographic Maps A topographic map is a type of map that allows you to see three-dimensional landscapes on a twodemensional surface. Topographic maps show the shape of the terrain, including features such as mountains, valleys, slopes, depressions, rivers, streams, and lakes. What sets a topographic map apart from a regular map are contour lines (or isolines) and elevation information. Co ntour li nes are the greatest distinguishing feature of a topographic map. These lines connect points of equal elevation. If you were to physically follow a contour line, your elevation would remain constant. Contour lines are evenly spaced apart, this spacing is called a contour interval. For example, if your map uses a 100 feet contour interval, you will see contour lines at 100ft, 200ft, 300ft, 400ft and so on. Different maps use different intervals, depending on the scale of the area being mapped. For example, if we were to create a map of Mauna Kea (13,796 feet elevation) using a 500 feet contour interval and one of Pu u Huluhulu, a cinder cone alongside Saddle road on the Big Island (200 feet elevation), using the same contour interval, we would have a nice detailed map of Mauna kea and possibly a single awkward line for Pu u Huluhulu as this little Pu u does not even reach a height of 500 feet. On the other hand if we created a map for Pu u Huluhulu using a 30 feet contour interval and a map of Mauna kea using the same interval we would get a detailed map of Pu u Huluhulu and a overly busy map of Mauna kea that would be of no value due to its difficulty to work with. How to Interpret a Topographic Map Topographic maps uses colors, lines and symbols to represent natural and man-made features, elevation, and land cover types. For example, Blue is used to represent water, green to represent vegetation and gray or red to represent densely build up areas. Lines can indicate boundaries, elevation contours, roads, streams, and more. These lines come in many different colors - blue, brown, red, black and purple - each representing something different. Topographic maps also use many different symbols - this prevents crowding of the map, but still provides information (See USGS Topographic Map Symbols Handout). History of Topographic Maps The United States Geological Surveys (USGS) produced its first map in 1879 and have been the primary civilian mapping agency of the United States ever since. A lot has changed since early cartographers traveled to the unsettled west on a donkey train mapping the terrain by hand using crude surveying equipment. Today, topographic maps are created using photogrammetric interpretation, the practice of determining geometric properties of objects from photographic images. These images can be obtained by aerial photography, a process where photographs are taken of the ground form an aircraft, helicopter, blimp, kite, or balloon. Topographic maps are also created using LIDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) data.

3 In this process a downward-facing LIDAR instrument is mounted to a aircraft or satellite. As the unit moves over the landscape a laser beams light pulses down and measures the distance from the unit to the first object it intercepts along its path, creating a three-dimensional model of the landscape. Vocabulary Cartographer: The study and practice of making maps. Cartography (from Greek Charax=sheet of papyrus (paper) and Graphein=to write). Contour Interval: The Difference in elevation between successive contour lines. Contour Lines: A contour line, also called an isoline, joins points of equal elevation. Topography: The study and mapping of land surfaces. Topographic Map: A large scale geographical representation (map) of a portion of the earths surface that includes natural and man-made surface features of the landscape, such as valleys, hills, mountains, craters, significant bodies of water (river, lakes, streams, etc.) illustrated with lines representing differences in elevation. Elevation: The vertical distance of a point or object above or below a reference point. Map: A graphic representation of the spatial relationships of entities within an area. Scale: The ratio or relationship between a distance or area on a map and the corresponding distance or area on the ground, commonly expressed as a fraction or ratio. For example 1:10,000 means that one unit of measure on the map equals 10,000 of the same unit on earth. Procedure 1. Instruct students to pair up. Pass out all supplies and worksheets listed in the materials section to each student pair. 2. Ask students: What is a map? [A graphic representation of the spatial relationships of entities within an area.] Ask: What do we use maps for? Why are they important? [To orient ourselves, to know where we are, to help plan a trip, architectural planning, provide information about where we are in reference to other things, to communicate where something is to someone who is unfamiliar with an area, to navigate from point A to point B, to know how far away our destination is, etc.] 3. Explain: Maps are important in our everyday lives. They help us to know where we are, how to get where we want to go and give us a better understanding of the layout of the paths in our parks, buildings, streets and bike routes of our cities, and the layout of landmasses on earth. Thus, it is important for us to know how to read a map. 4. Explain: Today we are going to learn about Topographic Maps. Ask: Can you tell me what the difference is between a regular map and a topographic map? Take answers. Explain: Topographic maps allow you to see a three-dimensional landscape on a two-dimensional surface. These maps show the land s contours, elevations, mountains, valleys, bodies of water, vegetation and more.

4 5. Hold up an example of a topographic map and explain: The lines on a topographic map are called contour lines, each line represents a different elevation. In America our contour lines are brown. Explain: When we look at a topographic map we can determine what the landscape looks like based on the curvature of the contour lines. Ask: Why do we call them contour lines? What does the word contour mean? [A contour is an outline representing the shape or form of something.] Ask: What do these contours represent? [Contour lines on a topographic map represent the three-dimensional curvature of the landscape in a twodimensional surface, drastic curves in lines can illustrate valleys, rivers, and streams, even the shape of mountains, and hillsides.] 6. Explain: Not only do contour lines show us the shape of the landscape they also tell us information about the elevation on specific areas on the map. Ask: What is the definition of elevation? Take answers. Explain: Elevation is the vertical distance of a point or object above or below a reference point. For example, the elevation or height of Mauna kea measured from sea level is 13,796 feet, with the reference point being sea level. Ask: What is the elevation at sea level [0 feet]. Explain: Each contour line on a map represents a specific elevation. If you were to use a Global Positioning System (GPS) unit and follow a contour line on the map, you would walk at the same elevation the entire time. 7. Explain: On a topographic map the distance between lines are called contour intervals and each interval represents a decrease or increase in elevation. For example, if a map s contour interval is 100 meters, there is a decrease or increase of 100 meters between lines. Ask: If the first line is labeled 0m the next line will be 100m, then 200m, then 300m and so on. The contour interval may be different on each map depending on the use of the map. 8. Hold up map for student to view. Ask: If contours lines are equal in elevation, why are some lines closer together on some parts of the map and further away on other parts? [Lines that are closer together represent steeper landscapes and lines further apart represent flatter landscapes - Even though the difference in elevation is equal between lines the lines will not be evenly spaced because elevation is a vertical measurement and not a horizontal one. 9. Hold up a topographic map for students to view. Explain: To make topographic maps easier to read, every fifth line is an index contour, it is a thicker line that helps you to follow contours more efficiently. On a topographic map, only index contours are labeled with elevation, because it would be impractical and busy to label each line. 10. Ask: Why are topographic maps important? What could we use them for? [If we were hiking we could use a topographic map to determine the easiest route from point A to point B. It would allow us to avoid hiking on steep slopes, determine where interesting features are such as lakes, rivers, and mountains, tell us how steep the hike will be so we can prepare for it, and allow us to see the shape of the landscape and avoid any dangerous features. 11. Instruct students pairs to place their molding clay, dental floss, worksheet titled My Topographic Map, and handout titled How to Create a Topographic Map in front of them. Explain: In your teams you will create a topographic map of (name of geological feature) using the tools in front of you. 12. Instruct students in creating their topographic map step by step using handout titled How to Create a Topographic Map.

5 13. Explain: The United States Geological Surveys (USGS) produced its first map in 1879 and have been the primary civilian mapping agency of the United States ever since. A lot has changed since early cartographers traveled to the unsettled west on a donkey train mapping the terrain by hand using crude surveying equipment. Today, topographic maps are created using photogrammetric interpretation, the practice of determining geometric properties of objects from photographic images. These images can be obtained by aerial photography, a process where photographs are taken of the ground form an aircraft, helicopter, blimp, kite, or balloon. 14. Topographic maps are also created using LIDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) data. In this process a downward-facing LIDAR instrument is mounted to a aircraft or satellite. As the unit moves over the landscape a laser beams light pulses down and measures the distance from the unit to the first object it intercepts along its path, creating a three-dimensional model of the landscape. 15. Using a topographic map as a visual, Explain: There s more to interpreting a topographic map than just contour lines. There are many colors and symbols that tell us a great deal about an area. Features can be shown as points, lines, or colored areas. Fore example, the light green areas depending on what kind of shading, will tell us that the are is vegetated and what kind of vegetation it is, whether it is woodland or a shrubland. Lines may be solid, dashed, or dotted, and represent contours, as we ve seen, roads, and boundaries. 16. Hand out packet titled USGS Topographic Map Symbols. Explain: The United States Geological Survey, our primary mapping agency, has a list of standard symbols used in the maps that we use. Take a look through these maps and point out all the symbols you see and what they represent in reality.

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