NAGT > Teaching Resources > Teaching Activities > Mapping Potato Island

Mapping Potato Island

Lisa Gardiner
Office of Education and Outreach, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
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In this activity, students make a topographic map to describe the shape of a potato.



Middle school classroom

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered:

How the activity is situated in the course:

National or State Education Standards addressed by this activity?:

National Science Content Standard D: Structure of the Earth System-Landforms
National Geography Standard 1: How to use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report information.


Content/concepts goals for this activity:

Students gain understanding of how contour lines are used to describe the shape of the land surface.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity:

Students construct a topographic map of model terrain.

Other skills goals for this activity:

Description of the activity/assignment

Middle school students can gain essential understandings of the Earth and its processes in the classroom by making and manipulating simple models. While no substitute for field experiences, simple models made of easily-obtained materials can foster student understanding of natural environments. Through this hands-on activity, students describe the shape of a model landscape by making a topographic map. This classroom activity is available on Windows to the Universe (, a project of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research Office of Education and Outreach.

Determining whether students have met the goals

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Controlled Vocabulary Terms

Subject: Geoscience
Resource Type: Activities:Classroom Activity
Grade Level: Middle (6-8)
Ready for Use: Ready to Use
Theme: Teach the Earth:Teaching Environments:K12