
Latitude,
Longitude and Distance Traveled



The latitude
and longitude data from satellitetracked animals may be difficult to
understand at first. For example, if an animal 's latitude changes by
1 degree, how far did it move? This lesson will help students get comfortable
with the data so they'll have a feeling of the distances involved when
latitude and longitude change.
1.
Sketch a Globe
For background understanding, students should practice drawing a globe
by hand. As they draw, have them pay attention to the distance between
latitude lines across the globe. Have them contrast this with the
distance between longitude lines. Ask them, "What basic difference
do you notice between latitude and longitude lines?" (The distance
between the latitude lines is the same everywhere on the globe. Longitude
lines come together at the poles, and the distance between them varies.)
2. Print Copies for Students (or Studentgroups):
3.
Have Students Do Measurements on a Map
For Chart #1, students will need a map that allows them to do measurements
at 40 N.
4. Measure
Latitude Changes at 40 N (Chart
#1)
Have students measure the change in distance when the LATITUDE
changes by 1 degree, from 40 N to 41 N for example. Next have students
figure the distances involved when latitude changes by .1 degrees and
.01 degrees. (Students can do the math in their heads; they don't need
to measure on a map.)
5. Measure Longitude Changes at 40 N
(Chart #1)
Now measure the distances on a map when the LONGITUDE changes
by 1 degree, from 72 W to 73 W for example. Then figure the distance involved
when longitude changes by .1 and .01 degrees shown. (Again, students can
do the math in their heads; they don't need to measure on a map.)
6. Compare
Measurements at Different Latitudes (Chart
#2)
On Chart #2, do the same measurements but at various latitudes. Are students
surprised at their results?
7. Check your answers when done. (Link
to answer sheet.)
8.
Keep Your Charts!
Have students keep their completed charts on hand for use with
satellite data.
Extension:
Try the Online "Distance Calculator"
The format for latitude and longitude must be inserted exactly
as shown below or the calculator does not work:
Insert
this latitude/longitude format on the query page:
For
Longitude change of 1 degree use:
From: 40:00:00N 72:00:00W
To: 41:00:00N 72:00:00W 
For
Longitude change of 1 degree use:
From: 40:00:00N 72:00:00W
To: 40:00:00N 73:00:00W 
National
Math Standards (NCTM)
 Specify
locations and describe spatial relationships using coordinate geometry
and other representational systems.
Geography
Standards
 How to
use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies
to acquire, process, and report information from a spatial perspective.
