1. Tell the students
they are going to ěexploreî their community and keep a journal of
its major features. Have
students keep a journal as they travel around the community for a week
(walking to and from school, walking downtown with friends, being
outside during gym class, etc.) Tell
them to record the geography and features of their surroundings.
After a week, discuss journal entries.
As a class, look to see which features were mentioned in most
journals, such as the local river or town clock.
Introduce the term ěgeographic perception.î
Discuss how different peopleís perceptions would influence
Discuss the term ěgeographic relevanceî with the class.
How can the class decide which features of the community are
relevant and should be included in every journal?
Have students access online resources to view mapmaking
instruments and equipment (from Smithsonian Institution.)
Discuss how the Corps of Discovery may have used these
Research tools that may have been used by Native American
tribes, such as a sundial to tell time, or the movement of the
wind to tell direction.
Compare and contrast the tools used by Native Americans and the
Corps of Discovery by charting the similarities and differences.
Have students create models of several instruments (such as a
compass or sundial) and use them outdoors.
Divide the class into two groups.
Have one group use the instruments made by the class to map a
region in the school community. Have
the other group create a map of the same region using only items found
in nature (i.e., sticks, rocks, dirt, leaves, directions based on the
sun, wind, etc.) Have
each group sketch a map of the area based on their findings.
Share the groupsí maps in class and discuss their
similarities and differences. As
in the journal activity, students will notice there are differences
among their maps. Even though the groups mapped the same area, there will be
differences based on the groups' tools, perceptions, and what they
may have found to be relevant.
Relate the terms "geographic perception" and "relevance" to
mapmaking. Discuss how
maps may differ depending on the mapmaker's own sense of geographic
perception and what he/she finds relevant. The differences may be seen
in Native American maps versus Corps of Discovery maps.
Would the Native Americans and Corps of Discovery find
different parts of the same geographic areas relevant?
How would this make their maps differ?
Discuss how their maps differ based on the differences in the
ětoolsî each group used.
When the maps have been made and discussed, have students write opinion papers based on the class discussion.
Some possible topics are:
Which type of
maps are more historically relevant, those made by the Native
Americans or those made by the Corps of Discovery?
geographic perception and relevance affect the creation of
Based on what
we know about the development of different types of mapping
techniques, how might areas be mapped in the future?