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Using Different Models of Earth

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Using Different Models of Earth

In this activity, learners explore how the shapes, sizes, and distances of land masses appear differently on two different models of Earth: an icosahedron and a flat map. First, learners find the shortest distance between New York and Paris using a globe map and piece of string. Then, learners assemble an icosahedron model of the Earth and answer questions comparing the model to a flat map. Finally, learners identify different antipodes and determine if antipodes are easier to identify on icosahedron or flat maps. This resource contains links to materials that explain how the icosahedron is the basis for new models being developed for global weather prediction.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 11 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Model


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Scissors
  • Glue or tape
  • String
  • Globe map of the world
  • Copies of a two dimensional map (flat)
  • Copies of Icosahedron pattern (page 7 of PDF)
  • String to suspend model of Earth (optional)


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Processes
      • Weather and Climate
    • Earth Structure
  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Aerospace Engineering
    • Technology
  • Mathematics
    • Geometry
      • Plane Geometry
      • Solid Geometry
    • Measurement
      • Size and Scale
    • Problem Solving
    • Representation
  • The Nature of Technology
    • Technology and Society
      • Impacts of Technology

Informal Categories

  • Model Building


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Meier, Beverly L.


  • All Rights Reserved, NOAA,


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  • Thumbnail GEOMETRY by rojedaescarcega on 2016-08-25