Maps have long played an important role in exploration, commerce, and politics. Today, maps can provide a new depth of information and serve as an interactive tool for understanding the world around us.
Maps are tools that we use every day to provide us with certain kinds of information about our world. We commonly understand a map to be a visual representation that shows all or part of the Earth’s surface with geographic features, urban areas, roads, and other details. Although maps are ordinarily used to show geography, they can represent any space, whether in the universe or the human body, and whether real or imagined. We talk, for example, about a map of the brain or a map of Peter Pan’s Never-Never Land. The name for the study and practice of making maps is “cartography.” A person who makes a map is a cartographer.
Throughout history, geographical maps have played an important role in exploration, commerce, and politics. [Show the students copies of maps from different historical periods and briefly discuss their use and usefulness. You may want to consult Maps and Mapmakers: Three Views of the World for a look at three ancient and medieval mapmakers who revolutionized the way maps were made.]
Today, with digital technology advances, maps can provide a new depth of information and interactivity. Traditional maps, while useful, are limited to one view and can include only a limited amount of information. [Show students a historical map and point out the kind of information it can provide.] Unlike maps in the past, Bing maps and other digital mapping programs are interactive. They can also show many different views of the same subject at once, for example, changes in scale and demographic information. [Show students one of the interactive demographic maps of census tract estimates or interactive carbon emissions maps on the Social Explorer site. You can also show students the sample Bing maps project you created, highlighting one or several interactive features.]
What benefits and limitations of traditional maps can you name? What benefits and limitations do contemporary digital maps have? What do you think is the main difference between these two kinds of maps?
In this lesson, you will learn how to make informed use of new digital mapping information and tools. [Hand out the list you created of Bing maps tools. Using the Bing maps project you created, demonstrate how each of Bing maps tools on the list can be used to create a customized map. As you demonstrate the project, discuss the process you used to create the map. You may also wish to show students examples of Bing maps projects created by students in previous classes.]
[Ask each student to submit an idea for his or her own Bing maps project, or assign each student a project.] The following are suggestions for student projects:
Before students begin working on their projects, you may also want to do the following:
During the project you may want to:
Follow the steps below to guide your students through this lesson plan. See student handout link at right.
A topographical map shows the rise and decline of elevations for a given region’s terrain. Display one in front of your class. Choose a starting point and a finishing line.
Some cities have streets and roads that were designed on a logical grid, for example, with numbered avenues running north and south, and alphabetically named streets running east and west.