To Topo Two

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In this activity, two groups of learners create two separate landform models out of clay (mountains and valleys). Each group creates a two-dimensional model (a topographical map) of their landform on a sheet of paper. Topo maps are then switched. Each group then recreates the other group's landform. Then all models are compared.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Model


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Synthetic clay (Plasticine or Play-doh)
  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Two meter sticks (or slates of wood about 1/4 in thick)
  • Strong thin wire (to cut the clay)


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Structure
  • Mathematics
    • Geometry
    • Measurement
    • Representation
  • Physical Sciences
    • Heat and Thermodynamics
      • Heat and Temperature
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Communicating Results

Informal Categories

  • Model Building
  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Muller, Eric


  • All rights reserved, Exploratorium, 1998