Earth Science Week Classroom Activities

Mapping from Different Perspectives

Activity Source:

American Association of Petroleum Geologists. Developed by Lindsay Mossa, AGI.

Maps can be used for many purposes, such as exploring new areas and tracking changes in Earth’s features. Maps are also made in different ways. Traditionally, maps have been made from the ground-level. It is now becoming more common for maps to be made from images taken by satellites and drones. In this activity, you will make maps from different perspectives and analyze how those views can reveal different features.


• Large table, preferably rectangular
• 10 small objects
• Paper, unlined
• Pencil
• Stepladder or stool (requires supervision)
• Clipboard (optional)
• Ruler (optional)


  1. Without looking, have a partner place 10 objects on a table.

  2. Kneel at the edge of the table so it is at eye level (you can just see the surface of the table).

  3. On a blank sheet of paper, draw a map of the tabletop, showing the location of each object. Repeat this procedure from new perspectives:

    a. at a different spot along the edge of the table,
    b. standing,
    c. standing on a stepladder (step down from the ladder while drawing).

  4. Label the 4 maps you created with the perspective the viewer was at when it was made.

    a. Compare these maps and discuss differences and similarities with your partner.
    b. Choose the map that is most accurate.

  5. Have an adult help you make a map of the table using a scale. You will need to:

    a. Cut the paper so its length and width in centimeters (cm) matches the table’s length and width in decimeters (dm). Each cm of the paper would represent one dm of table length).
    b. Measure the distance of each object from the sides of the table and/or each other and use your scale to draw them on the map.

  6. Watch AGI’s introductory video on the use of drones (unmanned aerial systems, UAS) to take geoscience data, including pictures that can be used to make maps:

  7. Use Google Maps or Google Earth to view your school from both the ground and aerial views. Make observations of each view.


  1. From which perspective was it most difficult to map the objects on the table? From which perspective was it easiest? Explain why.

  2. When you look at your school from the ground, what are some things you can see that you cannot see from the aerial view? What are some things you can see from the aerial view that you cannot see from the ground?

    a. If you could only look from the ground, how could you make a map of the area around your school?
    b. If you were to map your schoolgrounds, would you use one perspective or multiple? Explain your answer.

  3. Describe two benefits of using drones to make maps.


Use Google Maps or Google Earth to view other areas, such as the Grand Canyon.
Click the “street view” icon (person) to see how much area has been photographed at ground view (the area that turns blue). Why do you think the entire area has not been photographed from the ground?


SEP : Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information; Developing and Using Models
DCI : ESS2.B: Plate Tectonics and Large-Scale System Interactions
CCC : Patterns; Scale, Proportion, and Quantity


4 : Quality Education
9 : Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure