The Geomatics.Org.UK Project

By Bramald, Tom; Powell, Jonathan | Mathematics Teaching, September 2006 | Go to article overview

The Geomatics.Org.UK Project


Bramald, Tom, Powell, Jonathan, Mathematics Teaching


Tom Bramald, from geomatics.org.uk, and mathematics teacher Jonathan Powell describe how pupils can benefit from some unusual and exciting free resources.

Geomatics is the science of collecting, analysing and interpreting spatial data relating to the earth's surface.1 It is the modern term for the surveying and mapping sciences. From the top of the tallest mountains to the bottom of the deepest oceans, geomatics has been used to augment our knowledge of the world around us. It is a fantastic way of seeing maths being applied to the real world.

Geomatics.org.uk is a project that provides free resources to support teaching and learning in a variety of subjects including maths and geography, often in a cross-curricular way. Via the project website,2 it is possible, free of charge, to borrow modern, professional surveying equipment, thus putting 21 st century technology into the hands of students and providing exciting, kinaesthetic learning opportunities (see table 1).

The table below shows the equipment that can be borrowed, free of charge, and some of its uses.

Here are three geomatics tasks that were used in a Tyneside school:

1. Pupils used the levels to make stadia distance measurements of an irregular shaped field. This exercise required three pupils to work together: one to hold the surveying staff, one to take measurements using the level and one to record information. Stadia distance measurement is a great example of how similar triangles are used in the real world. Although a simple process, the exercise introduces students to working with distances and reading scales. The field work information was later used within the classroom to make scale drawings, calculate areas and perimeters and form the basis of ratio, fraction and percentage calculations.

2. Pupils used theodolites to measure the horizontal distance from their work station to a building and they also measured the vertical angle to the top of a building. Using trigonometry, pupils were able to calculate the height of the building. Pupils then measured the height using tape measures and then compared and contrasted the two methods.

3. Pupils were put into three teams with levels and given the challenge of arranging themselves to occupy the vertices of a large equilateral triangle using angle and distance measurements.

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