Do you love maps? If so, you may want to look into a career as a cartographer, which is someone who enjoys cartography, or the study and practice of making maps.

The first maps were made by hand, by painting on parchment paper. As you can imagine, trying to draw the exact same map over and over was very difficult.

This meant early maps varied in quality. The amount of time and energy it took to create just one map also meant there weren’t many maps produced.

Over time, improvements in tools and technology helped cartographers refine their skills and produce better maps. For example, the invention of the magnetic compass allowed cartographers to improve map quality and accuracy. The invention of the printing press eventually led to the mass production of maps, which meant that if one very accurate map could be created, many copies of the same map could be made.

Today, cartographers make most modern maps with computers using specialized mapping software. One very interesting type of modern map is the Google Street View map, which allows users to pick a point on the map and view the location as if they were standing right there! These panoramic maps are made using new and exciting types of technology.

The images you see on a Google Street View map are taken by cameras mounted on special cars. Each vehicle carries nine cameras that together take a 360-degree “full circle” picture of an area.

Advanced software then electronically “glues” the photographs together, creating a seamless view of a location. This makes it possible for you to sit in your living room and take a virtual walk through your town, New York City or even another continent!

Google Street View also uses “Google Trike” (tricycle) and snowmobiles to take photos of walkways, paths and alleys where cars will not fit.

 

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Have you ever wondered…

  • How were maps made hundreds of years ago?
  • How do people use computers and satellites to make maps today?
  • How can I take a virtual tour of a famous city thousands of miles away?

Wonder Gallery

Wonder #55- Maps Static ImageVimeo Video

Try It Out

Try out Google Maps to take a Street View tour of your city. Just type in your address in the search box at the top of the page.

When you see the map of your area, keep clicking it to zoom in to Street View level. Start at your house and “walk” to school.

When you’re finished (or if you live in an area that does not yet have Street View images), jet off to more exotic locations with just a click. Here are a few famous sites you can visit using Google Street View:

  • Roman Colosseum (Rome)
  • Golden Gate Bridge (San Francisco)
  • Stonehenge (United Kingdom)
  • Washington Monument (Washington, D.C.)
  • Big Ben (London)
  • Las Vegas Strip (Las Vegas)
  • Ground Zero (New York City)

When you come back home, be sure to return to Wonderopolis and tell us where your travels took you. What did you see? What did you learn? Post a comment on this page or email us a description of your journey.

Did you also know that you can use modern mapping tools like Google Earth to make reading even more fun? Explore Google Lit Trips to learn how to make your favorite book an interactive adventure!

 

Still Wondering

Want to learn more? Here are a couple of resources you can explore.

 

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