The USGS publishes approximately 57,000 different topographic maps covering the United States. Topographic maps show contour lines (elevation and landforms), hydrography (rivers, lakes, marshes), transportation (roads, trails, railroads, airports), vegetation, boundaries, survey markers, urban areas, buildings, and a variety of other features. These maps are drawn according to the National Map Accuracy Standard and are most commonly published at 1:24,000; 1:100,000; 1:250,000; and 1:500,000-scale, although many other map scales exist.|
Topographic maps are a fantastic teaching resource for educators. They can be used in a variety of ways in the science, math, geography, and history curriculum, from elementary to college level. The following ideas may be used as an aid in building educational lessons or to spark your own ideas for using them in the curriculum.
The Topographic Maps Tutorial from the Geospatial Training and Analysis Cooperative, Idaho State University, includes sections devoted to "What is a Map?," Reference Datum, Map Projections, Distortions, Grid Systems, Geographic Coordinates, UTM, State Plane, Public Land Survey, Using Topo Maps, Map Scale, Magnetic Declination, Vertical Scale, Creating Profiles, Vertical Exaggeration, Calculating Slope, Using a Compass, Setting Magnetic Declination, Get a Bearing, Go from A to B, Find Self on a Map, and four field exercises using topographic maps.
[Summary provided by the U.S. Geological Survey.]