Summer Merit Badge: Maps
Most of us think of maps in terms of taking us from Point A to Point B, but that‘s only one sort of many maps. Different sorts of maps tell different stories. There are roadmaps, geographic maps, geologic maps, topographic maps, weather maps, and others. Buy a book or pick one up at the library to learn about different sorts of maps and what each one tells us. Make a chart of common sorts of maps and their characteristics.
Activity 20.2: Sources of paper maps.
Learn about the different places where maps of different sorts may be found, then go out and get the map of your choice and demonstrate how to read and use it. Also, find out what companies and agencies publish maps.
Activity 20.3: Making maps.
Make a map of your choice. This could be a simple street map of your neighborhood, a roadmap showing how to get to a mineral or fossil site from your home, a topographic map showing the hills and valleys of a nearby park, or even a map of a room in your own home. How about a treasure map showing where you buried a can of crystals or tumbled stones? In crafting your map, keep in mind such considerations as orientation, scale, symbols, legend, and labels.
Activity 20.4: Using GPS.
What do the words GPS stand for? Find out, and learn how to use it.
Activity 20.5: Maps on the Web.
The World Wide Web has become a wonderful source for maps of all sorts, including ones that allow you to change angles of view, zoom in or out, fly around the world, and otherwise have fun. Explore the Web and report on what sorts of maps you can find there.
To earn this badge you must pick three of these activities and submit them the the pebble pup leader.
Learning about the different sorts of maps and how to read them:
Maps are two-dimensional representations of different aspects of our world. You should learn about the different sorts of maps and what kind of information each conveys. For instance, here are a few types of maps you are likely to encounter:
Roadmaps show how to get from point A to point B on streets, roads, or highways. These are what most folks think of when hearing the word―map.
Political maps show borders of countries, states, and regions, locations of capital cities, etc. You will see these in political science and history textbooks from school.
Geographic maps may show both natural features (rivers, mountains, lakes) and manmade features (cities, roads, railroads), as well as artificial, political features (borders between countries and states).
Geologic maps show the underlying geology of a region, highlighting different types of rocks and formations. These are very colorful, for a very practical reason. The colors have been standardized to tell readers specific information about the type of rocks and their ages. Geological time periods are further delineated by letter codes, for instance, capital J for Jurassic, with lowercase letters indicating formations.
The most useful maps to pebble pups and earth science scholars, and to me, are:
Bureau of Land Management Maps
US Forest Service Maps
Many good books are available to purchase or to borrow through the library. Some can get fairly technical, but you can also find age-appropriate books at stores that cater to school teachers and sometimes at more general bookstores. Check with the store clerk to direct you to books about geography. Following are some I‘ve found.
More advanced, technical books:
• Barnes & Lisle‘s Basic Geological Mapping, 2004.
• Maltman, Geological Maps: An Introduction, 1990.
• McClay, The Mapping of Geological Structures, Second Edition, 2003.
• Books aimed at you:
• Richard Panchyk, Charting the World: Geography & Maps from Cave Painting to GPS with 21 Activities, 2011. (Ages 9-12.)
• Tish Rabe, There’s a Map on My Lap! All About Maps, 2002. Cat in the Hat‘s Learning Library (Ages 4-8.)
• Scott Ritchie, Follow That Map! A First Book of Mapping Skills, 2009. (Ages 4-8.)
• Sharon Thompson, Map Skills, 2003. (Aimed at Grade 5.)
It used to be, you got your map at your corner gas station. But different places specialize in maps of different sorts. One of the biggest places folks turn to nowadays is the Internet, but we‘ll cover that in Activity 20.5. In this activity, the focus is on traditional paper maps. Here are a few places you can point you:
• Libraries. The library can be your one-stop shop for maps of all sorts. Just ask at the front desk!
• Geological Surveys. The office of the Colorado Geological Survey contains geological and topographic maps, as well as maps showing mines and natural resources, and more. They usually have a catalog of maps of your state and its counties and townships, and you can often purchase them online or by mail or, if you‘re lucky enough to live close to the survey office, you can often buy them right there.
Our national United States Geological Survey (USGS) is another source. In fact, on the opening page of its website, www.usgs.gov, is a map of the U.S.; click on your state, and you‘ll be led to local resources.
• American Association of Petroleum Geologists. AAPG offers geological maps including cross sections, tectonic maps, landform maps, and more; www.aapg.org
• University Geology Departments. If you have a nearby college or university with a geology department, see if they‘ll let you look through their large, oversized geological maps that are often stored in big, flat drawers. Colorado College has these.
• Outdoors & Camping Supply Stores. These stores often have maps of major parks and trails, including topographic maps, hiking maps, etc.
• Bookstores. Here‘s where you‘re most likely to find geographic and roadmaps, including the Thomas guide series, atlases, etc.
• Gas stations & Convenience Stores. Yes, you still can get roadmaps at the corner gas station, as well as at convenience stores, drugstores, and elsewhere.
A number of publishers and organizations specialize in making maps. These include:
• National Geographic. http://maps.nationalgeographic.com/maps
• Rand McNally. http://store.randmcnally.com
• Thomas Guides. http://www.thomasmaps.com (now owned by Rand McNally)
• DeLorme. http://delorme.com
• American Automobile Association. http://www.aaa.com
The U.S. Geological Survey has neat, helpful sections all about maps and map making that you may want to explore. Go to http://www.usgs.gov and click on the ―Education link and start exploring all the resources they have to offer for free!
GPS stands for ―Global Positioning System, a satellite-based navigation system operated by the U.S. Department of Defense. It allows for determining accurate positioning on the earth‘s surface in latitude and longitude coordinates aided by some two dozen satellites in space. Initially reserved for military and government use, a part of the system known as the Standard Positioning System, has become readily available for civilian use and now appears in navigation systems for cars, for general aviation pilots, for recreational hikers, and more.
You can use GPS to find your way around with a handheld GPS receiver device or even a smartphone, and learning to use GPS is an important skill in today‘s world. In fact, most gem, mineral, and fossil guidebooks are now including GPS coordinates along with basic roadmaps, and some books are entirely geared to GPS, such as David A. Kelty‘s The GPS Guide to Western Gem Trails. Keep in mind, though, not all published coordinates are precise, and I‘ve been warned by Christina Morrissey of the Northwest Federation that there are three formats for coordinates. That is, the numbers can be expressed in three different ways, and they do not mean the same location. For instance, see coordinates of Delorme Gazetteers versus Benchmark Maps. Every GPS unit can be set to express each of these three formats, but the fact that they exist is rarely discussed.
One fun way to learn how to use GPS is geocaching, which has become an increasingly popular pastime. It‘s basically a treasure hunt or a variation on hide-and-go-seek. People all across the world (even Antarctica!) have hidden waterproof containers, called geocaches, and they‘ve posted coordinates so that others can locate the hidden caches. When players find a cache, they‘ll often enter the date and their own ―code into a logbook in the container. Sometimes the caches also contain little trinkets for players to trade. Players then share their experiences online.
Dennis Gertenbach, leader of the Junior Geologists of the Flatirons Mineral Club of Colorado, recommended this activity to me. He has taken pebble pups geocaching to an area where he also demonstrates how to use a topographical map. For more information on geocaching, Dennis refers us to the following website: http://www.geocaching.com. A good article entitled ―GPS and Geocaching in Education‖ provides a nice, clear overview and introduction to this fun activity, along with some how-to video slide shows. It‘s available via a web site created by professors and graduate students at San Diego State University: http://eet.sdsu.edu/eetwiki/index.php/GPS_and_geocaching_in_education.
In addition to exploring the geocaching website, you might encourage you to read Donald Cooke‘s book, Fun with GPS (2005). Written specifically for you and illustrated with hundreds of pictures, it explains what GPS is and how they can use it. It‘s also filled with fun activities for you to gain hands-on experience. As one way of fulfilling this badge unit, you might encourage them to try one of those activities.
Maps on the Web
The World Wide Web has become a rich trove of increasingly sophisticated maps, from MapQuest programs that give driving directions and roadmaps and estimated drive times between destinations, http://www.mapquest.com/, to Google Earth, and more.
Another really neat website sponsored by the U.S. Geological Survey is EarthNow! Visit it at http://earthnow.usgs.gov. It consists of real-time, bird‘s-eye images of the Earth‘s surface being beamed down from Landsat satellites. You actually feel like you‘re in a spaceship, with the surface of the Earth scrolling away beneath you. To orient you, city and town names appear in blue text
□ 9.5 Managing a youth activity booth at a local gem show
□ 9.6 Mentoring
To earn your Leadership badge, you need to complete at least 3 of the 6 activities listed above. Check off all the activities you‘ve completed.
9.1: Organizing a group display. One thing I always look for at a local gem show—and more and more often am disappointed not to find—is a Pebble Pups group display. Frequently, members of neighboring clubs band together and enter a club display at shows of neighboring clubs, and the combined efforts and materials make for truly outstanding exhibits. Similarly, while a single young child just starting out in the hobby may not have many pieces in his or her collection, the combined efforts of all the kids in a club can result in a great display that illustrates the range of individual interests and the overall scope of the hobby. The kids in any club should always be encouraged to put together such a group display—and it‘s even better if the kids themselves take charge of organizing and arranging it. For any kids who volunteer to oversee such an effort, you should lend advice and assistance as requested and should the need become apparent. Among the procedures they‘ll need to consider are:
• Should we have a theme (for instance, fossils, or the many varieties of quartz, or local rocks and minerals)?
• How and when will we gather together material from our fellow club members?
• Where and when will we all meet to talk about how best to arrange our display?
• Where will we get our case and when will we set it up?
• What will we need for set-up (e.g., liners, risers, display stands, etc.)?
• Will we make uniform labels or ask that everyone bring their own labels?
• How will we keep track of everyone‘s individual specimens?
• How and when we will return everyone‘s specimens?
The easiest place to assemble such a group display is at the club‘s annual show. However, search out other public spots within the community, as well, such as the local library, public schools, or local museums.
9.2: Leading a show-and-tell session or presentation.
Show-and-tell sessions are the easiest to arrange and ought to be organized around a theme. Here are just a few ideas:
• Things I collected on our most recent club field trip.
• Things I purchased at our annual club show.
• Doing the class presentation at a pebble pup meeting.
• My most valuable specimen and why I like it.
9.3: Planning and leading a field trip.
9.4: Overseeing a newsletter column or write several articles/poems about our hobby. Start a Fact of the Month column in the club newsletter, a column devoted solely to the topic of fossils (usually dinosaurs) and graced with your own dino drawings, or some other theme. Have a theme going so it is easy to come up with topics each month. Your column can start with a simple question that grows into a short essay: What color were dinosaurs? Were dinosaurs warm-blooded or cold? How did the dinosaurs die? A year-long series of mineral columns can evolve from focusing on the birthstone of the month. You might establish themes like these, or simply write what tickles their fancy at the time.
9.5: Managing a youth activity booth at a local gem show.
Every show should have a youth activity booth, and it‘s even better if youth are actually running it! You should hold a meeting with kids to decide on what sorts of activities they‘ll want to sponsor and how much space they‘ll need. Participating in family geology day at the Western Muesum of Mining and Industry or Cool Science at UCCS also counts to satisfy this particular requirement.Here are examples of fun activities often seen at gem shows:
• A Wheel of Fortune spinning wheel, where every spin wins a rockhound prize of a mineral specimen, crystal, polished slab, fossil, etc., donated by club members. If you don‘t have a spinning wheel, a variation is to have kids draw a numbered ticket from a hat or a bowl and match it to numbered specimens on a prize table.
• Grab bags filled with tumbled stones.
• Sand-sifting with a screen or colander for small fossils and gemstones in a box of sand.
• A ―Pirate‘s Treasure Chest filled with tumbled stones from which kids get to pick an assortment.
• Black Sand Fun, where a container is filled with magnetic sand and a series of magnets.
Becoming a mentor means helping younger or less experienced club members, sharing one‘s knowledge and experience with them in a specific project, such as how to craft to build and curate a collection, how to identify a mineral or fossil, etc. A mentor is someone who is always on hand, ready and willing to lend help and advice as a friendly and sympathetic colleague, someone who has already been through the ropes and who can share from experience. As new kids join the club, you might consider being their pebble pup buddy and help them get used to the club.
The World in Miniature Fall Merit Badge 2012
Earth in Space Merit Badge Summer 2012
Activity 11.1: Modeling the solar system.
Most meteors are tiny and burn up in our atmosphere, creating bright streaks in the night sky that we often call ―shooting stars.‖ But some bigger meteors make it to the earth‘s surface. If they‘re big enough, they can create craters and shoot out glassy fragments called tektites when they melt rock from our earth‘s crust on impact. Make a crater by dropping or tossing marbles or ball bearings into wet sand or mud. Find pictures of meteor craters in a book or on a web site. Then pick one crater and learn everything you can about it and write a report on it for your club newsletter.
Activity 11.4: Collecting meteorites and tektites.
If you happen to be lucky enough to live near a known ―strewn field‖ where a meteor exploded and left fragments over a wide area and you have club members with metal detectors, organize a field trip to search for a meteorite. However, meteorites are very rare and hard to identify in the field. So if you want to add a meteorite or tektite to your rock collection, your best bet will be to purchase one at a rock shop, gem show, museum gift shop, or through a meteorite dealer on the web.