This activity was developed by Chrystal Thomas Yamasaki, a professional land surveyor in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii for use in a GEMS (Girls Engaged in Math and Science)workshop.
Grade Level: 5th and 6th grades
Skills Developed: Topographic map reading, land usage planning
Materials: 2 large transparency sheets, foam board, tape, knife
Background Story :
While on a sailing trip in the Pacific Ocean, the group comes across an uninhabited island for sale and decides that this is where they want to live. They form a "hui" (company or club in Hawaiian) and buy the island.
Different members would like to have different types of land depending on their interests (e.g. farmer, eco-tour guide, fresh water fisherman, salt water fisherman, rich dudette, etc.). In order to partition the land successfully, the shape of the island must first be known, as well as its topographical layout. Then the division of the land can be decided on (and if you wish, a road and houses can be laid out.)
1. Preparation: Have the foam board pre-cut into layers which can be piled on top of one another to form the island. Make two models. One is the master model of the island, with its various layers. The other is a smaller scale duplicate model that has been subdivided into as many lots or pieces as there are workshop participants.
2. At the beginning of the session, give each participant a bag containing the unassembled pieces for one lot. With the pieces will be the person's identity. (The lot has been selected to match the needs of the person.)
3. The transparency sheets are used to make the topographic map. Draw the outline of the island on the first sheet. On the second sheet, chart various vertical readings (in increments of 5') matching the shapes that you have precut. (You may want to subdivide the group into smaller sets, in which case make more than one pair of transparency sheets.) Connect the dots of the readings to get a layout of the land. Lay the sheets on top of each other to get a complete topographic map. Compare it to the 3-D model.
4. Discuss the type of land that each person would want based on his or her profession. Also discuss best locations for roads and why certain locations (e.g. ravines, over the tops of mountains) are not good. Then have each participant assemble her section of the island. Bring the sections together and create the second model.
5. Workshop participants can take their section of the island home with them and further develop it.