Poking around in the dirt provides topography learning

Sadie Mahon teaches 7th, 8th, and 9th grade Math and Science at Franklin Local Community School. An Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP) workshop for teachers provided Mahon with lessons and materials for her classroom. Mahon describes how her students responded to the skewer contour mapping activity.

“Topography is one of those topics that can be difficult for students to grasp. I really liked how this hands-on activity helped the students visualize how these maps work. They had a great time with it and seemed to really like the mystery involved. They did really well drawing the maps and really seemed to make the connection with elevation because of the boxes. They were able to understand that if they didn't have to poke the stick in very far to feel the "ground" it was a higher elevation versus when they had to really feel around for the "ground". I really liked that this activity forced them to make their own topographic map but did it in a fun way. They loved the mystery of the map and almost made it like a competition to see who was right!”

Mahon said she feels learning is best achieved through fun, hands-on activities such as the topography one. She said, “I love the hands-on aspect of all of the OOGEEP activities. They help get the students engaged and make real world connections to topics that are important but can often be delivered in a very dry manner.”

“I would definitely recommend this workshop to other teachers,” Mahon said. “Not only do we learn about some new engaging activities for Earth science, which is always great, but we also learn more about the gas and oil industry. I thought it was really neat to actually get to visit some of the sites in the industry right there in Marietta. It was a good use of a few days of my summer break!”