Oxford Atlas Project 1
Discover Oxford Atlas Project 1...Stage 1 of the Oxford Atlas Project helps students to become familiar with maps and basic map-reading skills. Students are encouraged to develop their spatial skills by viewing features and landscapes from different angles. Students discover country features and places by using simple keys. grids and scales. Thematic maps provide an introduction to locating key information. Students are introduced to the world through children of their own ages from a range of different cultures. To learn more about the Oxford Atlas Project and the research that shaped this innovative series visit www.oxfordatlasproject.com
- 15 Jul 2008
- Oxford University Press Australia
- OUP Australia and New Zealand
- Melbourne, Australia
Resource Review: Oxford Atlas Project 1 By John Gough, Deakin University Part of a three-stage atlas project, the Oxford Atlas Project 1 is aimed at ages 4 to 8, and hits the target. Inside the attractive cover (the face of a young girl from Myanmar) the front end-papers give a Mercator's map of the world, showing continents and naming countries: the back end-papers give the flags of the nations of the world, listed by continents. Simple, but enticing. After the Contents (which include a map of the States of Australia), pages 4 to 11 give a step-by-step introduction to the Earth, in space, its spherical roundness (photographed from space, and represented on a child's desk-top globe: This is the top-down entry point to understanding maps), the slicing and stretching of orange-peel sections of the globe-surface to make a flat 2-dimensional map, the schematic-code Keys of a map that represent physical and other features of the actual landscape seen from above, the cardinal points of compass directions, the street directory grid-method of specifying locations of features in a map, and distance scales (e.g. 1cm: 5m on a close-up urban neighbourhood). On page 10 there is a colored drawing of an aerial view of a street-scape with buildings, as though observed by a passing pilot, or bird, or viewed from a nearby high building: then page 11 shows the bird's-eye view map of the same streetscape and buildings, with a scale (this is a good bottom-up entry point to understanding how a map works). Learning about maps can't get much easier than this. Obviously, the keen child out of school, or even pre-school, might then consider making sketches of his or her own house-plan, and adjacent street. And the child might also explore an internet image of his or her own neighbourhood, as in GoogleEarth, or photos and maps, as in Where Is It? (http://whereis.com.au), or Running Ahead (http://www.runningahead.com). We live in exciting times for information and education. But some young children may find this first "lesson" daunting. The second and alternative "lesson" steps back from the larger views, to something smaller and much closer to home. Throughout the book a cartoon-like character called Eddie (probably a boy in jeans, but possibly an Edwina or Edmondtina) entices the reader (or the pre-reading viewer) to look and think (and learn). Through pages 12 to 21 Eddie gives a guided tour and explanation of how a life-like looking-downwards view of a backyard is like a map. (To motivate and model this, meaningfully, Eddie is seen standing on the roof of his house). Then we see how a high-up photo-like view of Eddie's bedroom becomes a simple map or plan of the room and its furniture. (Pictorially this is initially motivated by showing Eddie viewing the bedroom from a high-corner vantage point: possibly standing on a tall stool.) This then expands the scope, going on to a roof-removed drawing of the whole of Eddie's family house (for simplicity this is single-storey) and house-block, and the corresponding schematic plan of the rooms and furniture and doorways (windows are not shown in the map). Then Eddie's house is shown in a larger view of the street, and then the street is shown in a yet larger view of Eddie's neighbourhood. And so on. This is an atlas-orientated counterpart to Kees Boeke's classic book, Cosmic View: The Universe in 40 Jumps (John Day, New York, 1957), and similar books showing successively expanded points of view of something seen, at first, close-up, but increasingly shown in larger and larger contexts (and smaller and smaller scales). Happily, Boeke's book is available to read on-line at: http://nedwww.ipac.caltech.edu/level5/Boeke/frames.html - last accessed 14 August 2008. A similar book is Robin and Sally Hirst's My Place in Space (illustrated by Roland Harvey and Joe Levine; Five Mile Press, Fitzroy, 1988). After that the successive sections open into a young student's map and picture guide to Australia and its States, then to the world: first New Zealand, then the Pacific, then Asia, Europe, North America, South America, and finally Antarctica. The final section provides simple introductions to interesting geographic aspects of the world: natural environments, climates, peoples, houses, foods, resources, and endangered animals. And there's more. There is a good place-name Index, alphabetically ordered, with street-directory coordinates for the relevant maps. Page by page, a small text-box offers simple practice questions: obviously modelling ways that teachers, or parents, can expand on the thinking this book stimulates. The two-page spread for Victoria includes major towns, mountain ranges, lakes, rivers, and Mt Bogong. Obviously major highways, and railways are missing. But these are easy to add (perhaps with a transparent plastic overlay). Or a child-reader might move, or be encouraged by an adult, to a more detailed state-map from a street-directory or similar source. What classroom (from Prep upwards), if its students have access to this remarkable Oxford Atlas Project 1, would not also have good large wall-maps of Victoria, Australia, the Pacific, and the World, prominently displayed, with a good large table-top globe of the World as well? The mathematical demands of this book, the mathematical thinking it stimulates, and its mathematical potential (map-making, projections, scales, coordinates, directions), are obvious. Well done, Oxford University Press! Bibliographic note: This review has also been submitted for consideration to Prime Number, the Mathematical Association of Victoria.