Map Assignment (16% of total course grade)

Map Assignment (course objectives):

  • describe how technologies such as geographic information systems, remote sensing, and maps are used to analyze local, regional, and global issues
  • describe how culture, the environment, and location affect how we define and understand the world
  • interpret information from the spatial perspective in order to apply knowledge of geography to world events


Get the Map:

  • Locate the appropriate topographic map from the United States Geological
    Survey (USGS) site,
  • Go to Maps, Imagery, and Publications, and then, under Maps,
  • Click on Download Digital Scans of Topo Maps. Then go to Map
    Locator. In the search box on right, type Washington, DC.
  • Click on the square named Washington West.
  • Then click on the bubble you created. Download: Washington West 7.5X7.5 1983.

Find the U.S. Naval Observatory Location:

  • Navigate using the + and Âbuttons on the PDF map and the hand tool.
    Zooming in using the + and Âbuttons on the map itself gives very high resolution. Do not use the control key and mouse scroll button to zoom in. This map covers parts of Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.

Put a Dot on the Observatory and Label “Observatory”:

  • Zoom in on the area that includes the observatory so that the vertical dimension on your map is about one to two kilometers. Each square on the map is one square kilometer. Using the annotation feature on the map, mark where the observatory is with a dot. Make sure your dot is a contrasting color so that a viewer can see it.
  • Again using the map’s annotation features, create a text box next to the dot that says “U.S. Observatory.” Use an appropriate size font and color.

Prepare a Word Document with the Following:

  • A screen shot of your map showing the U.S. Naval Observatory. The shot should include a vertical distance of one to two kilometers.
  • The approximate elevation of the observatory.
  • A paragraph describing the topography near the observatory. Include a large enough
    area to make your description interesting.
  • Go to Google Earth and take a screen shot of the same area as covered by the
    screen shot of your topographic map. Put this on your Word document.

(Hint: take a little larger screen shot than your topographic map. Then resize and crop in Word to make it the same area as your topographic map screen shot.)

Compare and contrast the view and information available from the two maps/images, and answer the following questions:

1. What is the elevation of the U.S. Naval Observatory?

2. What does it mean when the contour lines are close together? What does it mean when the lines are far apart?

3. Generally describe topography of Rock Creek Park on the map. Describe how you know from the map what the topography is.

4. What is the lowest land elevation on the map? Why is that an easy question?

5. Using the map, what is the distance in kilometers (to the nearest tenth of a

kilometer) between the Smithsonian Institution and the Library of Congress?

(Hint: Use the scale at the bottom of the map. Use a ruler gently against the monitor. You cannot zoom in and out once you measure.)

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