Mapping and the Desert

Mapping is a fun and challenging skill that gets a little light through the science program.

See those tiny red and green dots? Each one marks a spot one wolf visited.

At the end of Grade 1 students have a chance to map the whereabouts of a real wolf in Minnesota’s Superior National Forest whose location was tracked by listening to radio waves transmitted through a collar the wolf wears.  We learn so much by looking at the resulting map: where two wolves might go, what they have in common, what they don’t have in common, how much they travel (or how little) and we get to wonder why, applying all our knowledge of wolves.  These are the kinds of activities that open up a continuing conversation about science because reading and watching maps, like all kinds of data, continues to be something that teaches us about trends in our world and gives us new information to make predictions with.

In the case of deserts, plants give us the boundaries.  In Grade 2 we take a closer look at the deserts of the Southwest in this map to the left. Together we use color to code the map so it is easier to see the connection between a desert, it’s name and description, and the plant that is unique to that region.  On the second day of instruction we looked at maps made by NOAA about temperature and precipitation to see how the experts use color to help a map look more interesting and tell us information more quickly and efficiently.

from NOAA

We noticed that the deserts in the Southwest are also in the driest and hottest part of our country.

We can all use practice reading and understanding visual representations of information- the more the better.  This is not the first, nor the last time we will use maps to understand our world better.  If you ever find yourself looking at an interesting map at home, feel free to share!

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