Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Topographic Maps: Treasure Hunt

This activity requires you to have access to a class set of quadrangle maps (a quadrangle map is a contour map that covers an area bound by lines of latitude and longitude).

It also requires a chunk of time to set up the first time. Once it's done though, you can just pull it out year after year.

Students will go on a "treasure hunt" using the map to move from destination to destination. This is done after students have had some experience with topographic maps and I ask several questions before the "hunt" to make sure students know what they're looking at.

The example I've provided below is based on the Yonkers Quadrangle, as the school I worked in was located in that quadrangle and we had several of these maps.

First, the background questions:
1. What is the scale for this map?
2. What is the contour interval for this map?
3. What does the color pink represent?
4. Draw the symbol for US Highway (Route).
5. Is the land flatter on the east side of the Hudson River or the west side?
6. How do you know the answer to #5?
7. What symbol do you find on all of the schools on the map?
8. Find the high school in Demarest. At about what elevation is it located?
9. What do you think all of the little symbols like this: {draw place of worship symbol here} represent?

Now, the treasure hunt:
Begin at NV Demarest. Walk due west until you reach Tenakill. Get in a canoe and paddle upstream until you reach St. Joseph's School. What town are you in? _____ Get in a waiting helicopter and fly over the Oradell Reservoir. What rail line did you have to fly over in order to get there? _____ After parachuting out of the helicopter, you land in the reservoir and swim over to Old Hook Road. After climbing the fence to get out of the reservoir, you get in a waiting car and drive along Old Hook Road. Ditch the car at Anderson Avenue. Old Hook Road changed names during your drive. What is the new name? _____ Hike southeast until you reach the water tower. At about what elevation are you? _____ Continue your hike due east until you reach Alpine School. By then you're tired of walking, so you steal some poor soul's mountain bike and continue heading east. The first obstacle you come to is a couple of major highways you must cross. What are they? _____ & _____ Once you've made it safely across, you have to head down to the Hudson River. Using your powers of estimation, how many feet do you descend from the time you cross the highways to the time you reach the river? _____ The bike becomes mangled in that large descent, so you're back to relying on your own two feet. Hike up to the Alpine Boat Basin. You borrow a speedboat and head across the Hudson River. The power plant across the river catches your eye, so you head there. Which New York county are you in now? _____ After refueling, you buy a ticket and hop on a train traveling south on the Penn Central Rail Lines. You can't explain why, but you decide to get off at the Sewage Disposal Plant. At this point, you're just north of which New York City borough? _____ The stench immediately gets to you, so you jump in the Hudson River and start swimming. You're trying to swim due west, but the downstream current is too strong, so you end up traveling southwest. You land at the Powder Dock back on the New Jersey side of the river. You're unready to face the long climb up again, so you start walking south until you reach the Englewood Boat Basin. At that point, it looks like you have no choice but to go up the cliffs. You're able to get a ride along Palisade Ave. but your ride is only going to the library in Englewood. You'll take what you can get. When you're at the library, you're near the intersection of what two major roads? _____ & _____ At the library, you find a topographic map of the Yonkers Quadrangle, and see that if you head north on Engle St. you'll find a wooded spot (as indicated by green on the map). Fortunately, a bus is coming by as you come out of the library, so you hop on and ride along Engle St. until you see the trees. Unfortunately, you didn't look very closely at the map in the library, because this wooded patch is the home of what? _____ Cemeteries freak you out so you start running due west until you reach Washington Ave. During the course of your run, you pass by four schools. What are they? 1._____ 2._____ 3._____ 4._____ Finally your luck has changed! There's a stretch limousine waiting for you at Washington Ave. Your driver takes you north on Washington Ave. until you reach the intersection of Washington Ave. and Main St. You're now in the downtown area of which town? _____ Bad luck strikes again! The limo has a flat tire and you've got to get home. You start walking west and in just a couple of blocks you find yourself crossing the railroad tracks. A freight train is passing by so you jump on. The sights are becoming more and more familiar, so you jump back off the train as it crosses Haworth Ave. Only a little further for your weary body to travel. You start walking east on Haworth Avenue, until you cannot move any further. You're at the intersection of Haworth Ave. and Valley Rd., pondering what to do when you look up and see a familiar sight. What is it? _____!!!!

Obviously, this is something you'll have to create specific to the map you're using, but this gives you an idea of how you can go about it.

If your school doesn't already possess quadrangle maps (check around, there might be some hidden away somewhere), you can purchase them through the US Geologic Society.

It also appears that Amazon has some quadrangle maps for sale. You probably need to know the exact map you're looking for (whereas the USGS will help you determine that, if you're not sure). But, it looks like the Yonkers Quadrangle can be found here. I can't vouch for the quality of these - I don't know if they're the same ones as offered by the USGS or not - but it is another option for those of you seeking a set of maps.

1 comment:

  1. I love this idea!!! I'd love to just use your map and hunt since this will be a one time class. Do you know where I can find a printable copy of your Yonkers map?