Learning Latitude and Longitude

As we discussed last week, it’s very important for scientists to tag the data they collect with the exact location at which it was collected. We do this with a GPS unit. GPS stands for Global Positioning System. This system uses a network of satellites to pin down an exact location.

In order to understand and use the GPS system, it’s important to have a good grasp on latitude, longitude, and how to read coordinates. Last week our 5th and 6th graders at Tierra Amarilla Elementary learned all about these concepts.

Students created “globes” and wrote in lines of latitude and longitude
We began with the Equator and lines of latitude.
We followed up with a discussion of the Prime Meridian and lines of longitude.

After creating our globes, we practiced finding locations on a map of the world using latitude and longitude.




Once everybody understood latitude and longitude, and all students were able to find locations on their globe and map, we pulled out our GPS units.


How does this thing work!?
Walking around the playground and watching our coordinates change

By the end of class our students could use the GPS units to find their current coordinates and then explain what those coordinates mean in terms of latitude and longitude. We are now prepared to tag our scientific data with its GPS location!

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