Can You Build A Mountain

Can You Build A Mountain?
By looking at a topographic map and a profile of a mountain you can observe the differences of
The students will understand the differences of elevation by making a topographic map and
creating a profile of the mountain.
Science Education Standards (Grade 5-8)
Standard 1: Science as Inquiry
Benchmark 1: The students will demonstrate abilities necessary to do the processes of scientific
2. Design and conduct a scientific investigation
3. Use appropriate tools, mathematics, technology, and techniques to gather, analyze and
interpret data
Standard 5: Science and Technology
Benchmark 1: The students will demonstrate abilities of technological design.
2. Design a solution or product, implement the proposed design, evaluate the product.
NCTM Standards (Grade 3-5)
 Model problem situations with objects and use representations such as graphs, tables, and
equations to draw conclusions
Data Analysis and Probability
 Represent data using tables and graphs such as line plots, bar graphs, and line graphs
 Describe the shape and important features of a set of data and compare related data sets,
with an emphasis on how the date are distributed
 Kinesthetic learners-building the mountain will be appropriate because they are able to
physically do something with their hands
 Visual learners-see the drawing of the topographic map and profile to observe the elevation
of a landform
 Collaboration-By working in groups the higher students can help the lower students. If the
lower students have problems reading another group member can read the directions
aloud to everyone.
 The students who like to be independent are still able to because they make their own
topographic and profile map.
 If students need to be challenged, more problem solving questions can be asked
SAFETY: There are NO safety concerns with this center. The only concern is management, making
sure the students stay focused and on task.
1. Each student gets a bag with foam pieces in it. Take the foam pieces and dowel rod out.
Construct a mountain with the foam pieces. Make sure to use the elevations as guidelines and the
notches on the foam pieces are lined up.
2. Now take the YELLOW worksheet Mountain Map and follow these instructions:
a. Take the foam mountain apart
b. Poke a pencil through the hole in a layer from the top; making sure the side with the
elevation is up.
c. Set the point of the pencil on the center circle of the Mountain Map
d. Line up the notch with the solid dark line that runs from the circle to point B
e. Hold the foam piece securely and trace around its outside edge.
f. Repeat this procedure for all six pieces of foam. Does the order in which the pieces are
traced matter?
3. Fold your Mountain Map along the line AB. Write the elevation on the contour lines at both
places where they cross the line AB. Make sure you start with 11,000 on the outside and work your
way to the center.
4. Take the PINK worksheet, the Profile sheet and follow these directions:
a. Write the elevations up the left side of the Profile sheet, starting with 11,000 at the bottom.
b. Line up the line AB on the Mountain Map (yellow worksheet) with the bottom contour line
number (11,000 feet) on the Profile sheet.
c. Find the two places where the 11,000 contour line crosses the horizontal 11,000 line on the
Profile. Put a mark at both intersections on the profile line.
d. Slide the Mountain Map to the line labeled 11,500 and mark where the 11,500 contour line
intersects its corresponding line in both places.
e. Continue this procedure until all marks are made for the contour lines.
f. Connect the intersection points
5. Reassemble your foam mountain. Compare the profiles with side views of the foam mountain
and with the worksheets to help you answer the questions below.
THINK ABOUT IT: (Discuss these questions with your group)
 What is the steeper side of the foam mountain?
 Where is the steeper side of the mountain on you Mountain Maps?
 What did you notice about the spacing of the contour lines on the steeper side of the
 If a topographic map has many contour lines spaced close together, what does that tell you
about the land’s surface in that area?
 What kind of information can you get about a landform by looking at its profile?
What do you think is the learning goal of this activity?
How could you adapt this activity for a second grader?
What other content areas are integrated with this activity?
What ways could technology assist you in this activity?
Here is a review of the terms we have been discussing this week, you may use this as
a reference if you need it.
The bottom of a mountain is called its base.
A contour line is a line on a topographic map that connects points of equal elevation.
A contour interval is the differences in elevation between contour lines.
Elevation is vertical distance, or height, above sea level.
A peak is the highest point of a mountain.
Sea Level is the average height of the ocean’s surface, zero elevation.
A topographic map uses contour line to show the shape and elevation of the land’s
The profile is a side view or cross-section of a landform such as a mountain.