Topographic Maps


Contents List


Topo Map Tidbits
· Students are introduced to topographic maps and learn basic map colors, symbols, and lines. They complete worksheets that focus on topographic map symbols and colors and then locate examples of these symbols on topographic maps. Click here for Visual Resource: Reading Contour LinesClick here for Visual Resource: Common Topo Map Colors and Symbols.

Topo Bingo
· Students become familiar with topographic map symbols through a fun, bingo-like game using portions of different topographic maps. .

Stream Order
· Students learn how to determine stream order using topographic maps and then use this knowledge to complete worksheets and determine stream order on topographic maps.  Click here for Visual Resource file,  Leboeuf Creek KeyElk Creek KeyLittle Conneauttee KeyMackey Run KeyTemple Run KeyWolf Run Key

Stream Length
· Students learn how to determine stream length on a topographic map using a map wheel or string. Worksheet

· Students learn about contour lines, elevation, and land forms in the context of watershed topography via three-dimensional models and visual aids. They then use this knowledge to complete worksheets and drawings of topographic maps. Click here for Visual Resource, click here for Contour Model Keys.

Stream Gradient
· Students use map wheels, topographic maps, reading elevation and contour lines and graphing skills to determine stream gradient. Stream Gradient Blank Graph Sheet and Resources

Watershed Delineation
· Students use prominent topographic map features to delineate the boundaries of a watershed. Click here for Visual Resource (Figures 1 – 7.) and Contour Model Map

Watershed Area
· Students learn three methods to determine the area of a watershed on a topographic map and then practice these methods on worksheets or using topographic maps. Planimeter Handout and Graph PaperWatershed Area Calibration Sheet

Land Use in Watersheds

· Students use topographic maps to complete a worksheet focusing on the potential effects of land use in watersheds.

One Hilltop, Three Major Watersheds!
· Students use skills from other Topographic Map Module activities to pinpoint the one hilltop from which runoff flows into three different major Pennsylvania watersheds. Click here for Visual Resource.

Topo Map Explorer
· Students review the major concepts of the Topographic Map Module by navigating through a series of scenarios on a worksheet.

l. GIS Video
· Students are introduced to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) by watching an informative video illustrating the various ways GIS can be used
· A worksheet and answer key are provided to evaluate students’ understanding of GIS.

Module Resource Guide Information:

Additional Module Resources

Topographic map Fact Sheets, relevant articles, other teaching resources and information about ordering topographic maps from the US Geologic Survey as well as a list of topo map web sites are included in this section.

General Activity Information
A list of module activities and an explanation of the activity format (layout).

Specific to the topographic map theme, these activities include all the necessary background information for teachers to pick up the activity and do the lesson in their classrooms.

Related Websites:
Topo Map Basics
USGS Topographic Maps Home Pages

Online Topographic and Relief Maps
Pennsylvania Topography 3-D Relief Map
Relief Global Slide

Topo Map Activities

Map Reading Activity: Topography #1
Map Reading Activity: Topography #2

Ordering Topographic Maps

USGS Maps Order Form

Step 1: Check Module Availability
Step 2: Complete Our On-line Request Form