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Activity: Locating Points on a Globe

NGSS Science and Engineering Practices:

NGSS Crosscutting Concepts:

NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas:


  • Orange 
  • Wooden skewer
  • Pens in at least two colors
  • Masking tape
  • Paper (thick paper or thin cardboard recommended)
  • Drawing compass with pencil
  • Scissors
  • Protractor
  • Ruler 
  • Permanent markers in at least two different colors
  • Container to hold orange (optional)
  • Toothpicks (if container is larger than orange—optional)


<p><strong>Fig. 1.19.</strong> (<strong>A</strong>) Creating a template with a protractor.</p><br />
<p><strong>Fig. 1.19.</strong> (<strong>B</strong>) Latitude template markings.</p><br />
<p><strong>Fig. 1.19.</strong> (<strong>C</strong>) Longitude template markings.</p><br />

  1. Make a latitude and longitude degree template as shown in Fig. 1.19 A.
    1. Place the orange on the paper. You might have to hold it to keep it from rolling around. 
    2. Hold your pen straight against the widest part of the orange and make a mark on the paper. Make a second mark on the opposite side of the orange.  <p><strong>Fig. 1.20.</strong> Making a globe from an orange.</p>
    3. Measure the distance between your marks with a ruler. Divide by two. Use this measurement to set the radius on your drawing compass. Use the compass to connect the marks and make a circle.
    4. Using a protractor and a ruler, mark 30˚ intervals around the circle. Make sure your marks extend outside of the circle.
    5. In one color, label your 30˚ intervals as shown in Fig. 1.19 B. These are your latitude markings. Mark 0˚ as the equator on the template.
    6. In a second color, label the same 30˚ intervals as shown in Fig. 1.19 C. These are your longitude markings. Mark 0˚as the prime meridian on the template.
    7. Cut out the circle and discard the inner disc.
  2. Insert a skewer through an orange as shown in Fig. 1.20. Enter at the orange’s stem scar and exit on the bottom of the orange at a point directly opposite the scar. The skewer represents the axis about which your world turns.
    1. Attach a small flag made of masking tape to one end of the skewer. The flag represents the north pole. 
    2. Put your team number or your initials on the flag so that you can identify your orange globe.

<p><strong>Fig. 1.21.</strong> (<strong>A</strong>) Place the orange in the template.</p><br />
<p><strong>Fig. 1.21.</strong> (<strong>B</strong>) Mark the latitude lines.</p><br />
<p><strong>Fig. 1.21.</strong> (<strong>C</strong>) Draw continuous lines.</p><br />

  1. Draw the parallels of latitude.
    1. Place the orange globe in the template as shown in Fig. 1.21 A. The skewer should run from 90˚ N to 90˚ S on the template. If you need to, use a container to hold the fruit.
    2. With a permanent marker, make small marks at 0˚, 30˚, and 60˚ intervals on the orange, both north and south, all the way around the orange globe using the template as a guide.
    3. Rotate the orange globe slightly and make more marks. Continue slightly rotating and marking until you go all the way around the orange globe (see Fig. 1.21 B).
    4. Connect all the marks along each latitude to form continuous, circular, equidistant lines around the orange globe (see Fig. 1.21 C). 
    5. Make the equator (0˚ line) thicker so it stands out.

<p><strong>Fig. 1.22.</strong> (<strong>A</strong>) Place the orange in the template.</p><br />
<p><strong>Fig. 1.22.</strong> (<strong>B</strong>) Mark the longitudes.</p><br />
<p><strong>Fig. 1.22.</strong> (<strong>C</strong>) Draw continuous lines.</p><br />

  1. Draw meridians of longitude on the orange globe. Refer to Fig. 1.22 as you carry out the steps below.
    1. Place the orange globe in the template so that the equator line is even with the template. If you need to, support the orange globe on a container by inserting a few toothpicks into the equator line (see Fig. 1.22 A). 
    2. Use a permanent marker to make small marks at 30˚ intervals along the equator as shown in Fig. 1.22 B.
    3. Connect the marks from the equator to the poles (see Fig. 1.22 C).
    4. Make the 0˚ line thicker so it stands out. This is the prime meridian on your orange globe. 
  2. Draw an imaginary world on your orange globe with at least one large continent and at least one island with permanent markers using the following guidelines.
    1. At least one of your world’s continents should be positioned so that both the primary reference lines run through it. 
    2. One of your continents should be large enough that it extends across two lines of latitude and two lines of longitude on your orange globe. 
    3. Color in the continent(s) and the island(s) using permanent markers. When coloring, be careful not to blur the latitude and longitude reference lines. This may mean you have to color up to the lines but not over them to prevent smudging.
    4. Make dots to represent your capital cities. 
    5. Name your world, continent(s), island(s), capital cities, and ocean basin(s). Record these in your lab notebook.
Activity Questions: 


  1. Which meridian is opposite the prime meridian? State your answer in degrees. What is this meridian called on the earth?
  2. What are the approximate coordinates of the outermost points (N, S, E and W) of your continent(s) and island(s)? Record these coordinates and the coordinates of all capitals in a table in your lab notebook.
  3. You are an ambassador on a world goodwill tour. You have to give presentations at each of the capital cities in your world before returning home. Choose a starting capital city. In your lab notebook, make a travel itinerary and write down your departure and destination cities on your world tour. Record in what direction you will be traveling on each leg of your trip. 
  4. What is the difference between relative and absolute location? 
  5. Explain why both parallels of latitude and meridians of longitude are needed to locate a specific position on the surface of the earth.
Exploring Our Fluid Earth, a product of the Curriculum Research & Development Group (CRDG), College of Education. University of Hawaii, 2011. This document may be freely reproduced and distributed for non-profit educational purposes.