Home / How To / Using a topographic map to teach transport STL (grades 9-12): 6 steps

Using a topographic map to teach transport STL (grades 9-12): 6 steps

Transport includes the use of and connections between many different subsystems, with some examples being highways, waterways, trains etc.

With this project, students will build a "topographic" map based on research on types of transport, and will to compare different types of transport, safety and industry with each other, with the guidance of instructor questions. For example, can you ask your students which states have the most freeways? Who has the most waterways? Do the same states with lots of freeways have lots of trade? Does the existence of agriculture show more trade? Are the number of waterways and the number of trains related? etc.

The map shows the differences in amount of modes of transport or industries in that some states on the map are represented as higher than others, based on a scale or percentage. If you want to get really creative you can make it a puzzle where you swap in and out pieces to get a better look at the relationship between industry and mode of transport.

Eventually, students will be able to research statistics, model them, print the models and have graphical representations of some of the different types of transport.

This project addresses these high schools (grades 9-1

2) STL:

  1. STL 18-J: Transport plays an important role in the operation of other technologies, such as manufacturing, construction, communication, health and security and agriculture.
  2. STL 18-K: Intermodalism is the use of various modes of transport, such as highways, railways and waterways, as part of an interconnected system that can easily move people and goods from one location to another.
  3. STL 18-L: The design of intelligent and non-intelligent transport systems depends on many processes and innovative technologies.


  • Access to a web browser for research
  • The two attachable files attached
  • SOLIDWORKS or another fixed modeling program (Fusion 360 and Inventor are good free options for teachers and students! Tinkercad is a simpler, browser-based alternative which is also free.)
  • 3D Printer (optional) [19659011] PLA Filament (optional) ($ 10.25 per 220 g: most chart prints fall between 60-80 grams of filament, provided you use 10-20 % fill)

Total cost: ~ $ 3 per print, but free if you decide to digitally represent your information

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