Today while guarding a door for an event, I started wondering
about the ways I could use maps in a math class. I'm not talking about
MAPS testing, I'm talking about the old fashioned road maps mom would
try to read in the car while dad was driving and the kids were crying
"I'm bored" and "When do we get there?".

I know there
are wonderful directions you can get off the internet but I usually get
with the one set of directions with one wrong turn and I end up in the
wrong place (even with a GPS).

I found some great sites that offer cross-curricular activities that allows math classes to use geography.

1. This Teacher Vision site has Popular Geography Activities for the Math Classroom
page. It has a list of 24 activities for a variety of grades but some
of those geared for the elementary school can be adjusted for older
students.

There is a lovely unit on longitude,
latitude, and reptiles in which students find a country using longitude
and latitude. They also learn a bit about certain reptiles. Add in
Google Earth to find out the distance from one country to another and
apply the rate times time formula based on the standard air speed of a
standard jet to determine how long it might travel from one place to
another.

This also opens the possibility to having the
students due a bit of research on the animals, range of weights, and
other data so they can calculate variations of weight, height, etc.

Some of the activities cost money, some don't.

2. Scholastic has a nice activity called Math with Maps and Globes.
Although this states it works for K to 8, I think a couple of the
activities could easily be used in the high school with a small
variation. The first activity has students use straws but I think I
could have the students measure distance using a tape measure so as to
use the key to determine the actual length. Again using Google Earth,
students can find the distance and compare their calculations with
Google. This leads to being able to calculate the percent error and a
discussion of error.

3. Finally is a nice activity from Rice University on the Mathematics of Cartography.
It discusses maps in general, talks about the math used in cartography
and has some practice problems, some of which are actually more like
games but it makes them use longitude and latitude.

Stay tuned for another installment in ways to use math in other subjects.