Maps and models

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Both of these words can be nouns or verbs, and both interpretations are essential in science, as described in this month’s edition of Science Scope. Students use models and maps as learning tools; they also can model design processes or map their understanding of a concept.

It appears that many of these articles on maps and models are related to the Earth Sciences. Using Google Earth to Study the Basic Characteristics of Volcanoes goes way beyond the build-a-volcano models of yesterday to using a technology application to study real volcanoes. And if you can’t take your students to a cave, the author of Caving in the Classroom describes how to bring a caving experience to your students. She shares activities, rubrics, and resources for this simulation. Check out other resources in SciLinks Caverns.Students seem to enjoy working with maps, with a renewed interest in them thanks to GPS technology. Seafarers, Great Circles, and a Tad of Rhumb: Understanding the Mercator Misconception illustrates some misconceptions people have about the Earth based on map projections. I gained a new vocabulary term (rhumb line), too. The SciLinks topic Mapping has lists of resources to supplement those recommended in the article.

In Astronomical Scale of Stellar Distances Using 3-D Models, students demonstrate their understanding by creating models. Building Models to Better Understand the Importance of Cost Versus Safety in Engineering has ideas for introducing students to engineering projects such as building a tower. Both of these articles include teaching suggestions, rubrics, and resources. If you want to expand the engineering projects, consider some of the projects in the SciLinks Bridge Structures.

“Model” can also mean a plan or prototype. A Revolutionary Model of Professional Development compares traditional teacher training workshops to differentiated professional development.

The Scope’s Scoops feature has summaries of current research in various topics. These reports could be used by students, too, for extra reading on the topics. The topics this month could be expanded with information and activities found in SciLinks: Meteors, Dinosaurs, the Brain, and Black Holes.

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