NSDL teaching resources related to “place”

In this activity, students will become familiar with topographic maps and their uses, as well as developing an awareness of their local surroundings in terms of geographic and geological features. The activity is designed to use United States Geological Survey (USGS) 7.5-minute series maps, preferably one that shows the local school building. Using the map and a list of questions (provided), they will learn about scale, directions, contour interval, what the map colors stand for; calculating distances; and locating places.

Topographic Maps I

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Looking at an object or location at different scales provides the observer with a range of views. Details are visible at a small scale while the overall picture is visible on a larger scale. This interactive feature consists of a series of six images of increasingly smaller scale, allowing viewers to see the effects of changing scales. A background essay and list of discussion questions is also provided.

Observe One Place at Many Scales

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Kevin Lynch was a significant contributor to city planning and city design in the twentieth century. One of Lynch’s innovations was the concept of place legibility, which is essentially the ease with which people understand the layout of a place. By introducing this idea, Lynch was able to isolate distinct features of a city, and see what specifically is making it so vibrant, and attractive to people. To understand the layout of a city, people first and foremost create a mental map.

Kevin Lynch: City Elements Create Images in Our Mind, 1960

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Walter Christaller, a German geographer, originally proposed the Central Place Theory (CPT) in 1933 (trans. 1966). Christaller was studying the urban settlements in Southern Germany and advanced this theory as a means of understanding how urban settlements evolve and are spaced out in relation to each other. The question Christaller posed in his landmark book was “Are there rules that determine the size, number and distribution of towns?” He attempted to answer this question through a theory of central places that incorporated nodes and links in an idealistic situation.

Walter Christaller: Hierarchical Patterns of Urbanization

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