Osceola Environmental Center

Plotting Our Path

Time: one to two weeks

Purpose: To familiarize students with the use of a GPS, finding absolute locations, and creating maps with them.

Objectives: Students will:

  1. identify relevant terms.
  2. identify a GPS screen.
  3. read a GPS.
  4. record the latitude and longitude of specific places.
  5. label a map with the specific places.
  6. recreate the map.
  7. create a map legend.
  8. locate specific places and write down their absolute locations using maps on the Internet.
  9. create the map using the ArcView program (if available).
  10. take pictures of the area using a digital camera.
  • GPS
  • Digital camera
  • Worksheets
  • Transparencies
  • Overhead projector
  • Dictionary
  • Map of school
  • Clipboards
  • Pencils
  • Drawing paper
  • Student survey
  • Computer
  • ArcView program
  • Chart paper
  • Markers


  • GPS
  • Satellite
  • Absolute location
  • Latitude
  • Longitude
  • Map
  • Map legend


  1. Have students in small groups find definitions for vocabulary terms. In whole group discuss the definitions. Clarify any terms that need to be clearer for the students.
  2. Show the students the GPS. Explain how it is used. Ask students who might use it and why? Show transparency of the GPS screen. Discuss the parts. Have students draw and label a GPS screen.
  3. Pair students and take them on an observational walk around the school yard. Have them list what they observe such as swing set, flag pole, oak tree, parking lot, etc. Compile a class list. (From this list, teacher will develop a GPS scavenger hunt for the students.)
  4. Divide the class into small groups. Take students on a scavenger hunt. After each student group has finished, compile a class list of the answers. If there are any questions about any of them, take class out and recheck them.
  5. Walk around building to specific places the students go during the school day. Get GPS readings. Put on chart. Have students label the places on a school map then make a map legend. Take digital pictures of the places to download on computer.
  6. Students will then create a hand drawn map of the school and label according to legend (Can use pictures on the map).
  7. If ArcView is available, have students create a map using it.
  8. Have students research map sites using the Internet to locate specific locations and find their absolute locations.


  1. Observation
  2. GPS screen drawing
  3. GPS scavenger hunt
  4. Labeled school map and legend
  5. Recreated school map and legend
  6. (if available) ArcView created map
  7. Scavenger hunt on Internet site to find absolute locations of specific places in the world.

Teacher Notes:

  1. Ahead of time, go out and plot the places being used in the scavenger hunt.
  2. Check the elevation of your area and put it in the GPS (or do any specific setup that your particular GPS units might need).

Useful Web Links:
GPS companies:
http://www.garmin.com -- home page for Garmin. Check out the About GPS and Products sections.

http://www.trimble.com -- home page for Trimble. The About GPS Technology section has a tutorial for learning about GPS.

http://www.magellangps.com -- home page for Magellan.

Copyright © 2010 The Florida Geographic Alliance