Maps are one method of making feeling of our world. Yet they deserve to never be an accurate replica of our planet and they deserve to never display us every single detail.

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This is specifically true with people maps. We can think of people maps as different VIEWS of the globe.

A magazine of globes from the late 19th century

A directory of globes native the so late 19th century

A globe is the many accurate method to display the world. However, us can’t have a lot of of information on a world unless we make the very, an extremely big!

The procedure of mirroring a round world on a flat surface is dubbed a projection.

Think about this:

Have you ever before tried come flatten the end an orange peel? What happens when you shot to make the pieces line up perfect to make them flat? girlfriend will need to squish and also tear and also move all the pieces around. Friend won’t have actually a brand-new flat orange, however something that looks really different.

The maps in this exhibition have actually some funny sounding names: Azimuthal, Polyconic??

These space kinds that projections. Mapmakers have countless projections to pick from once they desire to present the earth on a level map. The all relies on what the map is for, or its purpose.

Every map projection has some features that it shows really well and others the it doesn’t. This are: shape, size, direction & distance. Depending upon the estimate a cartographer uses, any one the these qualities can be distorted.

Every mapmaker has to decide which estimate will work ideal for what they desire their map come do. Because that example, if the mapmaker is make the efforts to show where plane fly, they might select one sort of map that shows precise distance. However, if you just need a map come learn about continents of the world, you could just desire one that preserves the form of continent all roughly the world.

Key concerns for this lesson:

What room the differences in between maps and also globes?What room map projections?How carry out map projections display the round planet in various ways?Why might we pick different projections for various purposes?

Step 1

First, let’s take it a look at a globe:

This is an embedded page. Pop out for the full view.

Spin the online globe approximately in every directions.


AfricaGreenlandand Australia

Pay attention to sizes and how these areas relate to each various other on the earth.

Now go to Google Earth. Once you launch it girlfriend will be able to look in ~ a an additional view that a online globe. Zoom in a little, turn it around. Upper and lower reversal the world to look in ~ Antarctica, the north Pole or wherever you desire to explore a small more.

Pick two an ext continents or floor masses to explore. As you room zooming around, pay attention to the form of the land and also how huge they show up on the globe compared to one another.

Now, choose a place to zoom into. You room able come see more details about that location the closer you get. The closer friend zoom in, the much more you have the right to see, from structures to roads, landmarks, etc.

Head favor a Globe

If we want to watch the entire globe on a flat surface therefore we can see all the continent at once, us will need a map projection to perform this.

Every map projection has actually some characteristics that it shows really well and also others that it doesn’t. Any kind of one the these features can it is in distorted or not accurate contrasted to the genuine world.


This tool allows you watch what wake up if we check out a human head flattened, or projected, in different ways.

Let’s choose one projection you might have heard of: use the drop under to uncover the Mercator projection.

Which component of the head looks the many accurate? Which part looks the many incorrect (has the most distortion?)

Pick two other projections come explore:

How do these different from the Mercator?Where walk the head look many accurate?Where go it have the many distortion?

Step 2


Here are an ext maps come explore and a challenge for you to to compare maps. Open up up this map collection to discover the maps and the worksheet that goes v them. You deserve to do this on your very own or as a group to compare maps.

Step 3

Now the you have actually compared every one of the map projections:

What walk you notice about the dimension of land masses/continents throughout the maps?Is over there one map you thought did a fairly good job of maintaining every one of the qualities (shape, size, direction & distance)?

Now that you have contrasted them all, look increase the actual area (size) of each of the floor masses/continents top top the worksheet.

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Which one is in reality the largest? which one is the smallest?

Now, let’s imagine what you might want to usage these projections for:

Which one would certainly you pick if you to be trying to display someone how they could sail roughly the human being in a ship?Which one would certainly you pick to present how airplanes might fly approximately the world?Which one execute you think is the many accurate to teach someone around the size and shape that the continents?

Wrap up and also Take Away

You have looked at many different type of map projections. Countless teachers that educate kids (and adults) use map projections the the human being to difficulty them to think enlarge than simply their small place ~ above the earth.

What are some thoughts you have now around how you understand the civilization through maps?

Share her thoughts v us by email. We"ll post our favorite principles on the website as instances for other young cartographers!