July 17, 2008

Map Projection

This corny school film from the 40s does a pretty good job of introducing the concept of map projection - the art of translating the round Earth to a flat piece of paper.

Ironically, at the time of this film most schools displayed maps using the Mercator projection. This projection was created for maps that would show shipping channels and was never suited for use as a general use political or physical world map.

All projections involve some distortion, whether of shape, land mass, or distance; generally all three. Thus choice of projection is based on the area depicted, the purpose and desired aesthetics of the map.

National Geographic currently employs the Winkel Tripel projection for all our world maps.

For teachers, a lesson plan on projections is here.

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