What is it?
map design competition for children ages 15 years and younger organized by the
International Cartographic Association (ICA) in honor of the late Dr. Barbara
Bartz Petchenik, a famous American cartographer, map designer, theoretician, and
past Vice President of the ICA. Dr.
Petchenik was deeply interested in maps for children and children as mappers.
When is it?
The Competition is held every second year to coincide with the biennial international Conference of the Association. A country’s entries must be submitted to a national address some months before the biennal International Cartographic Conference.
What will be entered?
map of the world that addresses the theme of that year’s Competition. Any
manually- or digitally-created medium is acceptable. Each
country is invited to submit up to six children’s maps to be displayed at the
Conference. These must come from all entries that are submitted in that
country. Some graphic specifications
and limitations are spelled out in the Competition announcement that is
available at the ICA web site: <http://www.icaci.org>.
How might I introduce the Competition to my
on the theme, children are asked to express their ideas about the world or their
hopes for its future in such ways that a map of the world is a central feature.
To do this, children need to have: 1) some basic ideas about rules and
techniques of graphic expression; 2) some experience with representing actions
and ideas graphically, in what could be called graphic metaphors; and 3) ideas
about arranging the continents of the world through some “system of
projection”. This term
“projection” is employed here in its widest sense, from copying or tracing
by hand to manipulating by computer the many formal map projections that
cartographers have found useful. It
is not the intent of the Competition,
however, to promote the study of map projections per se, but to give children
the opportunity of exploring the many ways that we can think about and represent
the world we share.
brochure suggests a variety of activities that teachers can use to connect to
these three broad ideas. Their
actual choices, however, should be related to their students’ interests, the
teachers’ goals, or the curriculum, broadly speaking.
this is a document in the making, we invite teachers to share their reactions to
the document. What would they like to see added to it (or deleted from it)? How
do they see incorporating the Competition into their classes? What experiences
have they had with the students? Only by telling us about these things can we
improve this brochure for future competitions.
and Techniques of Graphic Expression
are many relatively inexpensive tools available children that provide reasonable
precision of expression yet great versatility. These tools include such things
as colored pencils, felt pens in a variety of colors, plastic templates for
making geometric shapes, rulers and straight edges.
A set of embossing surfaces is very useful for making uniform area
these tools are useful in making maps manually.
Children can also use a computer to generate the basic outline of the
world and its land masses. But many
of the programs available to schools do
not give young children the flexibility of expression as manual methods do for
the creative tasks involved in this Competition.
In any case, present thinking suggests that computer generated elements
should not dominate any entry.
are normally constructed on paper or light cardboard, but there are other
surfaces and materials that might be equally expressive of an idea or viewpoint.
Children should not rule out mapping on cloth or native stone or using
indigenous objects such as seashells, distinctive pebbles or woody plant parts
as elements in a collage approach to a world map. The history of cartography offers many such examples, from
the stick and shell sailing charts of Micronesia to the carved wooden models of
the fjorded Greenland coasts.
any drawing activity provides for experience with these simple tools.
Some, however, may connect more directly with the processes of
cartographic design and with the underlying cartographic concepts.
act of making a “picture” of an object is quite different from making a
“symbol” to represent it. A
picture, by including all of the details without overly emphasizing any
particular attribute, is an objective representation.
A map cannot retain all of these details, so that map elements must be
more concise. Thus a symbol
designer, through a process called generalization
removes most of the small details and retains, or even exaggerates, those
features that reveal the essential character of the object being represented.
In a sense, the designer is making a caricature
of the object. Many symbols are
just that -- we call them image-related
or pictographic symbols. There
are many household items or objects found in a classroom that can be used as
object in a symbol design activity (see below).
way words are written can also convey meaning.
On maps, names and labels are drawn in different ways to help readers
look for and isolate different kinds of information.
This process involves changing various characteristics of the letters:
their size, style, or their combination of capital and lower case forms.
Thus, for example, countries might be named with large capital letters [CANADA],
cities in smaller lower case letters with the initial letter capitalized
[Ottawa], and rivers the same as cities but in a slant or italic
style [Rideau River].
To produce these variations, cartographers have access to sophisticated
computer systems. But students can
produce most of these variations by hand using a few simple tools: a straight
edge (to produce parallel pencil guide lines), felt pens of two or more
contrasting widths, and the command of a few different alphabets (Figure
1: image size 18k). With
practice they can produce several contrasting lettering forms for use on their
maps. With a chisel point felt pen,
one can produce very attractive italic
of the first steps in making a map involves selecting the information that you
want to go onto it and considering what role it will play.
Normally we distinguish between the information which shows some place(s)
or distribution -- the map information,
the reason for the map -- and other information which helps locate or provide a
context in which the map information is viewed -- we call this base
information. Most every map has
some of both. The more important
map information is depicted in some bolder or stronger way so that it stands out
against the less important base
information. In doing this, we create what we call a figure-ground contrast.
best convey such information, cartographers use four kinds of symbols: points,
lines, areas, and labels. They can
modify them in various ways so that 1) they best suggest attributes of the
things or places symbolized, 2)
assist viewers in making distinctions among them, and 3) establish this
important figure-ground distinction. To
do this, they
manipulate nine perceptual dimensions, the most important are size,
value, color hue, color saturation, shape, texture,
refers to the diameter, length, width, height or area covered by a symbol.
It reflects the importance of the symbol (and thus the information it
represents) or some quantitative amount. Thus
the larger a symbol, the more important it will appear to map viewers and thus
the more it attracts attention.
refers to the lightness or darkness of a surface, whether or not it is colored.
The darker a symbol, the more important it appears.
Thus for representing quantitative information, make use of a sequence of
lighter to darker tones to represent lower to higher numerical values.
When using color, keep these tones within one color hue.
refers to the dimension of color that we associate with the rainbow, with colors
of different wavelengths. Perceptually,
different hues suggest different things
so that when representing different kinds of things, we color them in different
refers to the purity of a color. Perceptually,
saturation changes do not seem to be seen consistently and thus are not useful
in representing either quantitative or qualitative changes in map information.
On the other hand, we can use saturation to help establish an overall
pleasing figure-ground contrast by using desaturated or pastel
colors for the base information and strong, saturated colors for the map
refers to the outline of a point or area symbol, the complexity of lines, or the
style of letter forms. The more
complex the symbol, the more it will attract visual attention and thus appear to
viewers as being important.
refers to the pattern or arrangement of the elements that make up a symbol.
Most often we are referring to area symbols which might use discrete
repetitive marks, such as dots or lines, to cover an area and give to it some
unifying identity. Such patterns
have a number of perceptual dimensions but the most important are probably their
complexity and their overall density, which implies a value that is lighter or
darker. Changes in the former are
usually used to represent different things or phenomena.
Changes in the latter are used, when we are not using color, to represent
differences in quantity or amount. Popular
arrangements include systematic rows of dots or lines.
But equally pleasing textures can be obtained by embossing
rough surfaces found around the home or school -- surface such as window screen,
light diffusers, and brick or plaster surfaces.
refers to the direction in which prominent or linear elements of an area symbol
are pointed. For example, a texture
of parallel lines could be successfully discriminated in four different
orientations (horizontal, vertical, diagonal ne-sw, or diagonal nw-se).
In this sense, orientation does not apply to point, line, or label
symbols whose positions might first be determined by geographical factors.
Connection Between LATITUDE and LONGITUDE and COLOR
Description and Use
color makes a map both more attractive and informative especially if one follows
a few simple rules of color use. Fortunately,
for map-makers, these rules can be related to the system of parallels and
meridians with which we describe the earth and positions on it.
divide the globe into areas by various lines that we construct on its surface.
For example, the equator separates and thus defines the northern and
southern hemispheres. The Prime Meridian divides the eastern from the western
hemisphere. Two sets of lines, one
parallel to the equator, the other passing through the two poles, establish and
describe the position of points on its surface in terms of latitude and
longitude. This coordinate system
and way of describing the earth can also be used to describe the perceptual
dimensions of color and the organization of the color solid -- a model of all the colors that humans can visually
discriminate. The color solid, in
turn, is useful in selecting colors for maps that can convey qualitative or
quantitative distinctions, i.e., differences in kind or type and differences in
amount or magnitude.
the color solid can be imagined as a sphere whose north pole is white, south
pole is black, and arrayed around the equator are all the colors of the rainbow
2: image size 10k). Moving
along the equator describes changes in hue from red to yellow to green, etc.
Moving along a meridian describes changes in the brightness or value
of a single hue from white to black. Research
tells us that different hues (colors with different longitudes) best suggest
differences in the kind or quality of things mapped, and that different values
of a single hue (a hue from different latitudes, along one meridian) best
suggest different amounts or quantities of
a phenomena being mapped. The
axis of the color solid is a series of neutral grays from white to black known
as the gray scale. Moving from
any pure hue on the surface of the solid to the axis shows how a hue can change
in purity, saturation, or chroma, the
third perceptual dimension of color. Desaturated
hues, i.e., those found below the surface of the color solid, are called tones
or more commonly pastels. The layout of the color solid can also be used to explain
other terms used in color description such as warm
and cool, complimentary, tints, shades,
are figures of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which
it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance as in “A
mighty fortress is our God.” Metaphors
are used in speech and writing to describe the ways we might wish to think about
the nature of something, not necessarily its physical appearance.
Students should be encouraged to find examples in their daily reading.
can also be found in graphic material. In
other words, graphic designers (including cartographers) make use of images of
objects, both animate and inanimate, to convey ideas about a subject or place.
The history of Art is full of them. But students should also be able to
find contemporary examples of visual metaphors in commercial advertisements in
newspapers and magazines, political cartoons, maps (especially topographic
ones), paintings, and other graphic materials available to them.
the various graphic images brought to the classroom, consider the ways
in which the visual elements have been used to suggest feelings or
characteristics of behavior, personality, or values that may not, in themselves,
be visible. A sequenced
approach to these ideas would start with drawing some familiar object, such as a
shoe. In succession, students can
draw: a picture of the shoe; a map symbol for different kinds of shoes (ice
skates, basketball shoes, track or other spiked shoes, thongs or sandals, etc.);
and a generic symbol to represent all shoes -- all these would be pictographic symbols.
there are many things symbolized on maps that are not easily represented.
The most common refer to processes or actions.
These concept-related or associative
symbols work by suggesting an object(s) that we associate with an action.
For example, along a highway we see signs with a place setting of fork,
knife and spoon around a plate. While
it is true you will find these items at the next exit, they are meant to imply
that the traveler will find a place to use them, i.e., a place to eat as in a
restaurant or fast-food outlet. Students
should try making concept-related or associative symbols for such things as: a
shoe factory; a running place (track); an indoor skating place (rink); etc.
some symbols could become too complex or confusing to be very effective on a
map. Fortunately, for many map
situations cartographers can use a third kind of symbol.
Abstract symbols are simple
geometric forms that are assigned a meaning for a particular map (Figure
3: image size 8k). We assign
them meaning in a legend and agree tacitly that when seen on another map at
another time they may mean something quite different.
On a complex map, such as topographic map, students should try and find
examples of all three symbol types: pictorial, associative and abstract.
Some examples are given in Figure 3.
is useful to have access to a globe and some world maps on a variety of
projections. However, the ideas
involved in all “systems of
projections” can be studied in many other ways.
Tracing through transparent paper is way of making or projecting an image
onto another surface at its same size and shape.
The projection of transparent slides on a wall is a simple system of
enlarging images. As long as the
plane of the wall is parallel to that of the slide, there is very little
distortion. See what happens when
the slides are projected obliquely on the ceiling or side wall! Using a system of grid squares overlaying an image, one can
“project” that image without distortion by transferring it, square by
square, to another grid of a different size.
Sometimes, the second grid isn’t the same. A grid of rectangles is used to project elongated words, such
as “SCHOOL” or “SLOW” along streets so that motorists approaching
important intersections or places can read them legibly even though they are
seen in perspective. Such anamorphoses can easily be projected on to any plane surface seen
obliquely. More complicated grids
can be used for projecting onto curved surfaces.
Such anamorphoses were popular home amusements several hundred years ago.
is also helpful to have a projection that students can manipulate themselves.
The American Geographical Society has given the Commission permission to
serially reproduce a map of the world on the icosahedron, the Platonic solid
made up of twenty equilateral triangles. The
map, created by Irving Fisher, first appeared in their journal (2) in 1943.
It is reproduced here (Figure
4: image size 147k) so that teachers may copy it for their students.
world map on the icosahedron is one of a number of systems of projection (3)
which attempt to show how the spherical earth can be represented on a flat piece
of paper, i.e., how the surface of the earth, and the relationships between
places on it, can be projected onto a flat surface. Figure
5 (image size 141k) offers a simpler example on the six sides of a cube.
There are two basic activities that students can perform with these maps:
fold them into an approximation of the globe; and cut up the individual
triangles and squares so that they can be arranged in different ways. Before
doing either of these, however, it would be helpful to color in the land and
water areas in some contrasting and meaningful way.
Conventionally the water would be blue and perhaps each continent might
be given a different hue. By using
a fine-grained embossing surface, the coloring can be done quite uniformly.
make a 3-D figure, cut around the outline of either figure and then fold down
and crease the edges of each of the 20 triangles or 6 squares. Each should
nearly come together to form a rough whole.
For a “permanent globe”, glue along the tabs provides in Figure 5;
you will have to make your own for Figure 4.
you a master copy of the world map on an icosahedron allows you to copy it for
distribution and use by children and students.
If duplicated on standard 20 pound bond paper, the separate triangles,
when cut apart, are very small, light, and very sensitive to the touch.
If they get bent or folded in use, then they may no longer lie flat or
their edges match. Most of these
problems can be alleviated through some combination of three steps: 1) print the
map on thicker paper; 2) laminate
it; or 3) enlarge it. For the first, I have found that a 65-pound card stock
will run satisfactorily through several photocopying copy machines that are
available to me in my area. This will give extra weight and stiffness to the
triangles. For the second, I have
found two different laminating procedures that give the triangles added weight,
rigidity, and gloss. The first is a clear adhesive backed transparent plastic
that will stick to the face of the colored map, i.e., on one side only.
It is the less expensive of the two processes but requires a little more
fitting to make use of all the laminating material.
The other process involves placing the map in a sandwich (so it will be
covered on both sides) and heating it in a special machine.
In my area, one 8 1/2” x 11” sandwich costs about US$1.50 -- the same
as a package of the adhesive film which will easily laminate three maps at this
size. Some schools may have such processes in house and thus may be even less
one could enlarge the map. Doubling
the size makes the triangles much easier for small hands to grasp and move
about. In the Flight Lines game,
the triangles are approximately 3 1/2“ (8.8 cm) on a side and this is most
convenient. But for matters of
efficiency and cost, I would first try printing on heavier stock and laminating
to see how you like that product before enlarging the map.
laminated, the triangles in Figure 4 can then be cut apart so that they can be
moved around on a smooth surface. These
shapes can be rearranged in a variety of ways.
To do this, students must know about the relative positions of countries
and continents across the world’s oceans. In fitting together these shapes,
this knowledge is continually “tested” and reinforced.
Having a globe available for comparison would be most useful.
The 20 triangles can obviously be rearranged in many more useful and
interesting ways. For example they
can be used to demonstrate such geographic concepts as the centrality of a place
or to investigate various geographic perspectives -- not all maps need to be
oriented with north at the top! Different
global linkages or relationships can also be explored.
The outline of the resultant map itself can also be used as a graphic
6 (image size 165k), which I call the “stegosaurus projection”, could be
used for a map about dinosaurs!
of the simplest exhibitions of a system of projection is to cut up a piece of
paper that when folded will completely enclose a pile of blocks.
This enclosing represents symbolically the peeling away of the outer
surface of the pile -- the same thing that map projections do with the spherical
earth. To best make this
connection, the pile should be in the form of a cube.
a pile of eight 1-inch cubes, Figure
7 (image size 127k) can be used to create such a box. Figure
8 (image size 117k)shows the six facets of a cube with the abstract outlines
of the continents. When colored and
cut up, it forms yet another projection that can be manipulated like the 20
triangles of the icosahedron (above). Note
that with a piece of carbon paper, this image can be traced onto a pile of blank
cubes to form the “globe” from which Figure 8 is derived.
the discussion of latitude, longitude and the color solid, there is a direct
connection with algebra. Cartographers
only place a few intersecting parallels and meridians on maps.
In so doing, they subdivide the map into large areas that can be seen as
lying in rows and columns. By
labeling each column with a different consecutive letter of the alphabet and
each row with a consecutive number, the map can now be searched systematically
by areas defined by these two descriptors.
Within these alphanumeric
locations we can search for particular places listed in an index. For a start,
students can make a simple alphanumeric index for Figure 8.
the smaller the alphanumeric area (the more parallels and meridians on the map),
the easier it will be to find a place although there will be more areas defined
by the system. But for many
purposes, it is necessary that every place have a unique identifier in latitude
and longitude. In truth, there are
an infinite number of locations on the earth’ surface which would require an
infinite number of parallels and meridians! If cartographers did this, the lines
would hide all other features on the map. In
algebra, mathematicians have devised ways of giving unique locations to
infinitely small points by measuring their distance from two principal axes.
Our system of parallels and meridians is one such Cartesian coordinate
system with the Equator and Prime
Meridian as the two principle axes.
of the best ways of making the connection between what we see around us and the
abstract ideas behind map projections is through the medium of two-point
perspective drawing. In this system of projection, all forms and surfaces are
constructed within a system of three sets of parallel lines, two of which
converge at vanishing points located
within the body of the drawing along the visual
horizon (4). In making such
drawings, students come to see that despite obvious distortions, the image
“looks right,” i.e., it looks realistic (Figure
9: image size 174k).
all these activities with manipulative projections, one can access at least
eight different concept, skill or knowledge areas.
Knowledge of the major features of the earth is necessary for and will
come with putting the pieces together.
There are an infinite number of possible map projections.
Making a map of the world involves making concessions, i.e., accepting
errors (i.e., discontinuities, interruptions, and scale variations).
The form, aspect, or arrangement of world map projections is under the
control of the mapper and it can be modified to help address his or her design
Arranging the world map in different ways can raise questions about the
nature of some common geographic terms and generalizations.
Considering the earth’s surface as sets of geometric figures introduces
the idea of cartograms in which we change the size of each to represent less
tangible aspects of those places.
The number of parallels and meridians on a world map can be related to
ideas about Cartesian coordinate systems, on the one hand, and to algebra on the
The concept of great circle routes and the measurement of long distances
can be demonstrated and tested with manipulative projections.
Edition of July 2000 was prepared by Henry W. Castner on behalf of the ICA
Commission on Children and Cartography. All
of its illustrations may be duplicated by teachers for the use of their students
in working on any of these activities and in creating entries to the Petchenik
author of subsequent editions of this Introduction welcomes all suggestions and
comments. He can be reached at: 164 Fearrington Post, Pittsboro, NC
27312 U.S.A.; at <email@example.com
Castner, Henry W. (1997). Dr.
Castner’s Handy Little Embossing Kit. Pittsboro, NC: Walker Press. A set of five different embossing surfaces, each
approximately 5” x 7”, with instructions for their use and an example of a
map so colored. As long as
supplies last, readers are invited to write for a free copy to the author at 164
Fearrington Post, Pittsboro, NC 27312, USA.
Fisher, Irving (1943). “A world map on a regular icosahedron by
Gnomonic projection.” Geographical Review, XXXIII(No. 4), 605-619.
Another is the Guyou projection on 32 squares which is available
commercially from GeoLearning International Ltd., 244 North Main, P.O. Box 711,
Sheridan, WY, 82801, USA. It is sold as item #A002 under the name of GeoOdyssey
game for $14.95 plus 10% shipping. This
company also sells as item #A006 a game called Flight Lines for $5.95 plus 10%
shipping. In it the earth is
projected on to ten double-sided equilateral triangles; thus to make up the
isosahedron, one must purchase two sets.