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Geography and maps

Let’s clarify the difference between geometry, geology, geography and geodesy.


the branch of mathematics concerned with the properties and relations of points, lines, surfaces, solids.



the science that deals with the earth’s physical structure and substance, its history, and the processes that act on it.

Moho discontinuity


the spatial study of Earth’s landscapes, peoples, places and environments. This includes cartography (map-making.)

…we have a wide variety of sub-disciplines in the field of geography (like political geography, cultural geography, physical geography, etc.).
Businesses use geography when they decide WHERE to locate a new plant. Real estate developers use geography when they decide WHERE to build a new housing development.

– World Regional Geography GEG 101, http://harpercollege.edu/mhealy/g101ilec/intro/int/g3intrfr.htm

Cartography (map making)

There are many types of maps used in geography.



Geodesy combines applied mathematics and earth sciences to measure and represent the Earth (or any planet)

what is Geodesy

NOAA National Geodetic Survey, from a PPT by Hawaii Geographic Information Coordinating Council


Geodesy reasons

from the  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Ocean Service Education page on Geodesy:

Geodesists basically assign addresses to points all over the Earth. By looking at the height, angles, and distances between these locations, geodesists create a spatial reference system that everyone can use.

Building roads and bridges, conducting land surveys, and making maps are some of the important activities that depend on a spatial reference system. For example, if you build a bridge, you need to know where to start on both sides of the river. If you don’t, your bridge may not meet in the middle.

As positioning and navigation have become fundamental to the functions of society, geodesy has become increasingly important.

More info



Precise Geodetic Infrastructure: National Requirements for a Shared Resource (2010) – Geodesy for the Benefit of Society

Why study geography

Canadian council for geographic education


To understand basic physical systems that affect everyday life (e.g. earth-sun relationships, water cycles, wind and ocean currents).

To learn the location of places and the physical and cultural characteristics of those places in order to function more effectively in our increasingly interdependent world.

To understand the geography of past times and how geography has played important roles in the evolution of people, their ideas, places and environments.

To develop a mental map of your community, province or territory, country and the world so that you can understand the “where” of places and events.

To explain how the processes of human and physical systems have arranged and sometimes changed the surface of the Earth.

To understand the spatial organization of society and see order in what often appears to be random scattering of people and places.

To recognize spatial distributions at all scales — local and worldwide — in order to understand the complex connectivity of people and places.

To be able to make sensible judgements about matters involving relationships between the physical environment and society.

To appreciate Earth as the homeland of humankind and provide insight for wise management decisions about how the planet’s resources should be used.

To understand global interdependence and to become a better global citizen.

Learning Standards

2016 Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Curriculum Framework

4-ESS2-2. Analyze and interpret maps of Earth’s mountain ranges, deep ocean trenches,
volcanoes, and earthquake epicenters to describe patterns of these features and their
locations relative to boundaries between continents and oceans.

Science and Engineering Practices
4. Analyzing and Interpreting Data – Use graphical displays (e.g., maps, charts, graphs, and/or tables) of large data sets to identify temporal and spatial relationships.

ELA Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy

English Language Arts Standards » Science & Technical Subjects » Grade 9-10

Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 9-10 texts and topics.

Analyze the structure of the relationships among concepts in a text, including relationships among key terms (e.g., force, friction, reaction force, energy).

Translate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text into visual form (e.g., a table or chart) and translate information expressed visually or mathematically (e.g., in an equation) into words.

Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., quantitative data, video, multimedia) in order to address a question or solve a problem.

Evaluate the hypotheses, data, analysis, and conclusions in a science or technical text, verifying the data when possible and corroborating or challenging conclusions with other sources of information.

Synthesize information from a range of sources (e.g., texts, experiments, simulations) into a coherent understanding of a process, phenomenon, or concept, resolving conflicting information when possible.


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