Explore Topic: Maps and Navigation

“Finding the way” has been one of the greatest challenges of every Arctic explorer and expedition. From trip planning to navigation while underway, maps will play a pivotal role in carrying out the objectives of the Alaska Canada Barrenlands Traverse. For younger students, tracking the expedition may provide teachers with the opportunity to introduce the basic concepts of maps, map scales, map legends, and compass direction. Have your students locate the Arctic Circle on the map and do research on their own to find out what the Arctic Circle is. How many times does the expedition route cross the Arctic Circle?

Older students may want to research information on the earth’s magnetic field, the magnetic poles, and the related navigation problem of compass deviation that is particularly pronounced in the Arctic region.  Concepts of latitude and longitude might also be introduced and the use of GPS discussed.  The point where major lines of latitude and longitude cross, is called a confluence. There is a global project underway to catalog photographs of every near-land confluence on the earth’s surface (www.confluence.org).  Expedition members will have the opportunity to record “first visits” to several remote confluence sites.  Students wishing to track this aspect of the expedition should watch for it in the daily updates.




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