Courtney Wilmot
October 1, 2006

Professional Journal Review

Mannikko, Amy B., etal. (2005). Making Sense of Topographic Maps. Science Scope, 29(2), pg 34-40.

This article discussed the introduction of topographic maps into an earth science curriculum. Initially students should work with regular maps to ensure basic concepts are understood (i.e. recognizing legend, etc.). Students’ first experiences with topographic maps should simply promote an understanding of what features the maps include. Individual activities which allow students to create their own topographic map of the classroom will construct the concept of elevation differences on the maps. Finally, group activities in which students actually build a 3-D landscape from a topographic map will solidify students’ knowledge of the information these maps provide. The authors highlight the importance of gradually building students’ understanding of topographic maps via progressively engaging activities which allow students to actually learn concepts without feeling overwhelmed.

I really liked the approach the authors took to teaching the rather challenging topic of topographic maps. The series of activities the article suggests slowly introduces students to the concept, forces them to personally breakdown the knowledge at hand through individual and group work, and finally challenges them to apply what they have learned. The ability to apply knowledge is a huge goal which teachers have for their students and this article provides the steps to make this possible. Additionally, I think it is essential for students to find relevance in their schoolwork and this is apparent in the activities which allow students to work with maps in the context of their classrooms, neighborhoods, and cities. Overall, I think this article suggested a great approach to successfully building students’ knowledge base in the area of topographic maps while also keeping the subject engaging through relevant and hands-on methods.