Garden Globe Makes the World a Succulent Sphere
One of the world’s “largest living globes” will make its official debut at the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show this week. The geographic features of the enormous globe (4.3-meters (14-foot) tall, 9.5 meters (31 feet) in circumference) are rendered entirely in plants, such as sphagnum moss, echeverias, sedums, and crassulas.
The succulent globe is just one of many map and globe projects using unusual materials. What can your students come up with?
- Maps have widely different scales.
- The gardeners, artists, and engineers who worked on the succulent globe rendered the entire world.
- The Italian landscapers who created the hillside map in the photo above focused on just one country.
- This map, made entirely with drinking straws, represents the tunnels and tubes of the “London Underground,” the subway system of London, England.
- Our activity “Create a Pasta Population Map” encourages students to map their school.
Can students think of other geographic scales with which they could create unusual maps? Consider our collection of maps and mapping activities, as well as the various layers in our MapMaker Interactive for ideas. (Students may consider states or provinces, counties, agricultural regions, climate zones, linguistic communities, areas linked by history or politics, etc.)
- Three-dimensional materials can sometimes emphasize an map’s theme in ways a flat representation cannot. Consider these examples:
- In our activity “Make a Contour Map,” students create clay mountains, which helps them better understand the three-dimensional aspects of topography and topographic maps.
- This map of the United States was created entirely from breakfast cereal, and displayed as part of National Cereal Day (March 7).
- This map was made with about 3,000 coins, to illustrate the world’s economic markets. (Each nation is represented with its own currency.)
Can students think of materials that may enhance a map’s theme or focus? (Answers are endless! To get started, seeds could represent an area’s native plant community, while rocks or sand could represent the geology of a region. Waste—such as wrappers and other packaging—could represent consumer tastes in an area. Logos or equipment could represent a region’s interest in sports. “Smell maps” can be excellent representations of an area’s location and industry. Don’t stop there! Let “guerrilla geographer” Daniel Raven-Ellison inspire you and your students to re-think geography and get creative.)
- Nat Geo’s MapMaker Kits offer students and classes a terrific template to start thinking creatively about maps and materials. What are some unusual materials students can think of to map local, regional, or world areas? (Again, answers are endless. This beautiful world map was made using recycled computers. This map of the United States was made with 50,000 matches—and then lit on fire. Many foods, such as cookie dough or fruit leather (often called by General Mills’ brand name, Fruit Roll-Ups) are natural construction materials. Legos, which were used to create this remarkable map of Europe, are pretty much a standard construction tool at this point.)
- Standard flat maps can also be repurposed in creative ways. This artist uses road maps to create portraits of people. What type of map or map layers would students use to create self-portraits?
Thank you to my mom and the Monterey County Herald for this current-event connection!
Note: We’re experimenting with a new feature here on the NG Education Blog. “Current Event Connection” posts will connect educators with news stories and relevant discussion ideas featuring content from the NG Education website.
One thought on “Creative Materials Bring Maps to Life”
Cool idea with the country contour from trees 🙂