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Last Updated: Jan 23rd, 2011 - 06:37:27 

Great Teaching Tools  

Mapping Tool - Teaching Latitude and Longitude
By Cynthia Kirkeby & Maptech
Mar 30, 2006, 00:29 PST

What are latitude and longitude?

Any spot on the Earth can be described with just two numbers, its latitude and its longitude. This is what allows ship and airline pilots to pinpoint their locations as they travel. If you enjoy hiking or skiing, it’s also the magical numbers that will allow rescuers to find you with a GPS (global positioning device) if you were to get lost or caught in an avalanche.

So how does it work?
Each set of numbers list the degree of arc of the Earth (each number is actually representing an angle) there are three parts to each set of numbers: degrees, minutes, and seconds. By filling in these numbers you can pinpoint any location on the face of the earth. It’s really pretty cool!

To read a great explanation on latitude and longitude please visit Latitude and Longitude by Dr. David P. Stern.

The great people at Maptech have allowed us to set up this map tool for you and your students to use on your projects.

1. Put in the name of a place (like your hometown) then select your state. You’ll see a list of places they have available as maps.
2. Choose one and you’ll see a topography map of the area.
3. If you move your mouse across the map, you’ll see the latitude and longitude measurements change in the boxes at the bottom of the page.

With this tool you can pinpoint the actual latitude and longitude of your school, your house, the neighborhood mall, or something more historical like a national monument or a waterfall in a national park.

Check out our article on Teaching with Topographic Maps for some great ideas for teaching with maps.

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