What is Topography?
She’ll be coming around the mountain, but what will her road look like? Take a real or invented mountain, model it out of clay, and discover how we can represent it using topography. So what is topography, anyway? It's a field of earth science that involves studying and modeling the surface shapes and features of the earth (and even other planets!). Whether you have a picture of a mountain in your mind or you have a mountain of your own you’d like to create, this hands-on experiment will help you understand the tough work of a cartographer.
Cartographers make, read, and learn from maps. You may have seen maps that look like a lot of squiggly lines on paper. These are topographic maps. Sometimes the lines are wiggly; sometimes they are straight. They may be very close together or far apart. These lines represent the three-dimensional landscape drawn in two dimensions. Elevation, or the height of a landform, can be tough to show in two dimensions. The steepness, also known as the slope, can be hard to demonstrate as well—but it’s possible!
Warning is hereby given that not all Project Ideas are appropriate for all individuals or in all circumstances. Implementation of any Science Project Idea should be undertaken only in appropriate settings and with appropriate parental or other supervision. Reading and following the safety precautions of all materials used in a project is the sole responsibility of each individual. For further information, consult your state's handbook of Science Safety.