Topographic map in a box

We have been taking our seven-year-olds on lots of walks around the neighborhood for the last two months. I wanted them to begin to see the neighborhood as an integrated landscape rather than just rows of houses going by, so I made this. It is made up of 13 topographic layers cut from white presentation board (1.2 mm thick) and housed in a closed box. Water features are of blue laid paper my wife had laying around. The neighborhood’s streets are engraved on the acrylic upper panel. Each topo layer represents 20 feet of elevation.

It’s been fun to see them plotting routes for our walks on the map, and to see them beginning to understand the ways that topography impacts their movements and lets them predict where they might find water…

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Well well well. Innovation in maps. Love it.

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Fantastic work! Great to engage the kids in stuff like this!

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Pretty neat!

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Very nice! How did you do the clear / black layers?

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This is the way home schooling works best.

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The black lines are on the underside of the acrylic window. That is, I engraved a mirror image of the street layer, spray-painted it black (before removing the masking), and then flipped it over for final assembly. The street names are negative space inside the engraved areas. They present as white due to the white paperboard beneath.

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Thanks all, I appreciate the replies! This was a very time-consuming project, particularly the creation of the design files. I started with USGS topo maps and extracted the lines from the PDFs, which has the benefit of matching the official maps—but requires lots of manual work! I don’t recommend that approach…

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Very smart! Thanks!

Really like how how did the clear acrylic layer with painted roads with the street names embedded. Nice touch.

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Very cool, one of these days I’ll learn how to make these

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Beautiful turnout! I grew up with a love of maps.

At home studies with our 6 year old grandson has been cool. Maps with legends has been a stand-out for me.

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I’ve said this several times, GF projects geared towards kids, especially educational ones are always my favorite. This one is definitely top notch.

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