Geography homework help

| September 25, 2015

Project 1: Plotting Coordinates and Projections

Original version by David DiBiase and Hank Rademacher, revised by Wes Stroh and by Rui Li

Interactive Album of Map Projections developed by Ryan Baxter

This version adapted by Alan MacEachren, Raechel Bianchetti, Donna Peuquet, and Ryan Baxter

© 1999-2014 The Pennsylvania State University


Educational Objectives

This project requires you to prepare an illustrated report involving basic concepts covered in Chapter 2 of the Mapping our Changing World online text including georeferenced coordinate systems, map projections, and datums. In the process of producing the report, you will demonstrate your ability to:

  • Specify locations with geographic, UTM, and State Plane coordinates;
  • Utilize geographic coordinates in both degrees-minutes-seconds and decimal degree formats;
  • Produce two map projections suited to a reference and a thematic map using specialized Web mapping software;
  • Document your chosen projection by name and describes its characteristics;
  • Save two graphics files in a format compatible with publishing in a written report (e.g. PNG); and
  • Create and submit a written report that includes your graphics showing the projections you created as well as citations and references.


Your complete project report, submitted to the Project 1 Dropbox by 11:55 p.m. on September 19, 2015.

Evaluation Criteria

Project 1 is worth 100 points. Evaluation criteria include:

  • Quality: 50 points. Map projection properties should be clearly described in your own words. Data and metadata should be correct. Text drawn from other sources should be properly paraphrased and/or cited and referenced. Project reports should include at least two in-line citations. Citation and reference guidelines are published in the “Academic Integrity” section of “Resources” in the course tex The project should also be submitted by the due date.
  • Completeness: 40 points. Map projection should appea All required text elements should be present.
  • Above and beyond: 10 points. At Penn State, the course grade “A” (which corresponds to at least 90 percent of possible points in this course) denotes “exceptional achievement” In this course, project reports that fulfill all core requirements well earn a score of 126 out of 140 points. Up to 14 additional points are awarded for report elements that clearly exceed requirements.


A rubric is a guide used to evaluate assignments. Your instructors will consult the Project 1 rubric as they score your assignment. Take a moment to review the rubric which follows.


PROJECT 1 REPORT ELEMENTS                 Points



Was the assignment turned in prior to the deadline (Quality)






Geographic coordinates of named location specified (Completeness)




Geographic coordinate system adequately described (Quality)






UTM coordinates of named location specified (Completeness)




UTM coordinate system adequately described: poles (1pt), zones (2pts), eastings (2pts), northings (2pts) (Quality)






SPC coordinates of named location specified (Completeness)




SPC coordinate system adequately described: zones (1pt), county boundaries (1pt), dimensions of states (1pts), eastings (2pts) northings (2pts) (Quality)






Three coordinate systems adequately compared in terms of accuracy (2pts), ease of calculations (2pts), and uses (3 pts) (Quality)






Two maps created by student using Interactive Album of Map Projections appear in project report; one appropriate for small scale thematic mapping and one that is a different category (Completeness, 3.5pts each)




Map one includes place name and point symbol marking student location; map two is centered appropriately and includes the territory for the proposed thematic map to be based upon it (Completeness, 3.5pts each)




Map projection identified (Completeness, 3.5 pts. each)




Properties that are distorted accurately identified, among the following: size, shape, distance, and direction. (Completeness, 3.5 pts). Overview description of projection, including most suitable uses (Quality, 3.5 pts)






Source material properly paraphrased and/or cited and referenced. At least two in-line citations included. Active hyperlinks to websites included in source section. Source access dates correct. (Quality)




Prose quality (complete sentences, student’s own words, punctuation and spelling)






Examples include adding and commenting upon distortion ellipses, multiple projections, or other supplemental illustrations




TOTAL maximum score




The Project 1 Report Template includes a map of the world with State College, Pennsylvania, labeled as the home town. Following the map is text that you will edit, substituting information about your own map for blanks (“___”) and instructions [in brackets]. There are three sections dealing with the location of your home town. Then, there is a section dealing with picking a projection for a thematic map focused on a country other than the U.S.

Project 1 Report Template

  • You should consider the Report Template a suggested guide in designing the layout and structure of your own Project 1 Report. Open the template no Print a copy of the template to take notes on as you work through the instructions.
  • However, you should consider the template just as a starting point—your own report should be substantially longer in terms of text, including discussion of relevant concepts in each section
  • Also, remember, all images you include should have a caption. A caption briefly titles/describes the image and provides source information. Examples of good captions containing source information can be found in the Academic Integrity section of the online tex

Students from outside the US or those who are from State College

In the section where you are asked to determine State Plane Coordinates for a location, in place of your own home, choose a place in the US that you are interested in (other than State College). Read through all of Part A before deciding on a location. This requirement is imposed because State Place Coordinates do not exist for you if your home is outside the US and, if your home is State College we simply want to avoid many duplicate answers.

Geographic and Plane Coordinates

Part A: Converting Geographic Coordinates

Be sure to note your geographic, UTM, and SPC coordinates on your printed copy of the Project 1 “Report Template” so that you can include them later in your project report.

  • Convert the geographic coordinates to UTM coordinates using the National Geodetic Survey’s


  • Take note of the UTM Northing, Easting and Zone number for your report.
  • Take note of the SPC Northing, Easting and Zone name for your project report. Note that the SPC utility reports both a zone number (i.e., “1501”) and a zone name (k.a. “area”; for example, “KS N” means Kansas North zone).

Part B: Plotting Points and Projections

B.1: Reference Map:

Your second task is to create one or more world or regional maps using map projections you choose from a list of common projection types. The map should include a point symbol and name of your selected town, as shown in the Project 1 Report Template.

Penn State developer Ryan Baxter created this ArcIMS application specifically for this project. The Interactive Album is based upon the venerable Album of Map Projections last published in print in 1994 by projections experts John Snyder and Phil Voxland for the U.S. Geological Survey.

  • Create a map of the world (or a selected region of the world) highlighting your selected city/town/p
  • Choose a map projection from the pull-down menu. Pick a projection that you feel (based on details in your text or other sources) is particularly good for references maps that depict locations within the U.S.
  • Click the Redraw Map button to display your choic
  • Documentation is available for each map projection method included in the Interactive Atlas. The documentation is quoted directly (with appropriate acknowledgment) from Snyder’s and Voxland’s original Album. Although you are to describe projection characteristics in your own words in your Project 1 report, you may use this documentation as a reference. You may wish to seek out other references as well—the source list in the template has an excellent source from the USG
  • Define projection parameters. Some projections allow you to change the projection aspect by specifying a central meridian and latitude of origin. Some also allow you to modify the arrangement of the graticule (as well as the distribution of scale distortion) by changing standard lines. Available parameters vary depending on the nature of the projection formulae and the way in which they are implemented in ArcIMS. (Remember to click Redraw Map to display your changes.)
  • Define map extents to “zoom in” to a larger-scale view. Most map projections allow you to specify extents as latitude and longitude coordinates (in decimal degree format). Some projections require you to define extents in terms of meters from the projection center (Remember to click Redraw Map to display your changes.)

To convert from degrees minutes and seconds to decimal degrees, refer back to Chapter 2 in your online text or search for an online conversion utility.

  • Plot a location using the geographic coordinates you recorded earlie Be sure to convert your coordinates to decimal degree format before you plot them. (Remember to click Redraw Map to display your changes.)
  • Take note of your final specifications on a piece of paper (or print the Interactive Atlas screen).

You will need to refer to the specifications to in your project report.

  • Once you have produced a satisfactory map, save it as a PNG (Portable Network Graphics) file. (Don’t save it as a bitmap [.bmp]; such files are very larg) Place your mouse pointer over the map in your browser, depress the right mouse button, and save the image using the command in the popup menu. Name the file something like “Project1map.png”, then save the file on your hard drive making note of the location. You will insert this image in your project report.

Compile selected metadata for your ma

As requested in the paragraph that follows the map in the report template, identify the map projection you selected (pick on different from that shown in the sample report). You should state which geometric properties of the globe (i.e., sizes, shapes, distances, and directions) are preserved and which are distorted. If you choose to show only a portion of the globe that frames your particular country or region of interest, specify the bounding coordinates used. Acknowledge the Interactive Atlas (or other software you used to create any additional map projections). For more information about map projections, see Peter Dana’s MHYPERLINK “”apHYPERLINK “” HYPERLINK “”PHYPERLINK “”rHYPERLINK “”oHYPERLINK “”jHYPERLINK “”eHYPERLINK “”cHYPERLINK “”tHYPERLINK “”iHYPERLINK “”oHYPERLINK “”nsHYPERLINK “” HYPERLINK “”OvHYPERLINK “”eHYPERLINK “”rHYPERLINK “”vHYPERLINK “”ieHYPERLINK “”wHYPERLINK “” site, or the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping’s MaHYPERLINK “”tchHYPERLINK “”iHYPERLINK “”nHYPERLINK “”gHYPERLINK “” HYPERLINK “”tHYPERLINK “”hHYPERLINK “”eHYPERLINK “” HYPERLINK “”MHYPERLINK “”apHYPERLINK “” HYPERLINK “”PHYPERLINK “”rHYPERLINK “”oHYPERLINK “”jHYPERLINK “”eHYPERLINK “”cHYPERLINK “”tHYPERLINK “”iHYPERLINK “”oHYPERLINK “”nHYPERLINK “” HYPERLINK “”tHYPERLINK “”oHYPERLINK “” HYPERLINK “”tHYPERLINK “”heHYPERLINK “” HYPERLINK “”NHYPERLINK “”eeHYPERLINK “”d.


B.2: Thematic Map:

Your last task is to generate a second map projection that is particularly suited to use as a base for a thematic map to represent data from a single country of your choice (not the U.S.). The goal is to pick a projection that has properties that are appropriate to mapping area data (e.g., poverty/10,000 people) and that is relatively undistorted for the part of the world of the country you select. As above, your report will follow an outline detailed in the template document.

Producing the Project Report

The first part of the project involved assembling the content of your project report. This second part involves producing the report itself and submitting it for evaluation. This part consists of two steps:

Step 1 – Create Your Project Report

  • You may prepare your report in any of several formats: Microsoft Word (.rtf or .doc) or Adobe Acrobat (.pdf). Whichever format you choose, the report should include all the elements that appear in the Project 1 Report Template.
  • Project reports should be formatted so that images are legible. Instructors can’t evaluate reports that contain blurry, shrunken images. If necessary, change your page orientation, margin, or size in page setup to make room for full-sized, legible images.
  • Please use the following naming convention in your report file name: “LASTnameFIRSTinitial P1”.

My name is Joe Schmoe, so my file would look something like: “SchmoeJ P1.doc”. Two points will be deducted from your score if you do not follow this file naming rule.

Step 2 – Upload your Project Report to the Project 1 Drop Box

  • Return to the main Project 1 folder under the Lessons tab in ANGEL. Click on the Project 1 Dropbox.
  • Follow the instructions to upload your completed Project 1 report. Step by step instructions are located on the ANGEL dropbox pa

Need Help?

If you feel that you’ve followed all the steps and checked everything, and it still doesn’t work, ask for help!

  • If you don’t understand one of the steps, see if your question has been answered in the Project 1 Discussion Forum in ANGEL, or post your own question
  • You can also contact us regarding any question that you have

Guidelines for Instructors/Grading Assistants

Following are the guidelines your instructors will use in grading your project:

  • Every student should receive a timely personal critique and score in response to his or her project report. Grading assistants will contact students via course mail within 7-10 days of the project due date to inform students who fail to submit their projects to the project drop box that they will receive a “0” until the project is submitted and will deduct the appropriate timeliness points upon submissi
  • We will check project reports for originality using Turniticom. Project reports that include passages drawn from other sources but which are improperly paraphrased and/or cited and referenced will have points deducted accordingly. Project reports that appear to be plagiarized will be forwarded to the course instructor for review and possible disciplinary action.
  • Project critiques will include acknowledgement of successful features of each report, in addition to itemized list of shortcomings.
  • Students who earn less than 90% of possible points are encouraged to revise and resubmit project reports within one week of date of the original evaluation email for a maximum grade of 90% (Project 1 ONLY).

Due Dates

Your project must be submitted to the Project 1 Dropbox by 11:55 p.m. on September 19, 2015. Those submitted on time will receive 5 “timeliness points” plus an opportunity to resubmit for extra point based on feedback if your total score is less than 90 of the 100 possible points.

Resubmitted projects can receive additional points up to a maximum of 90 points, or 90% – thus a project with an original score of 80 can receive a maximum of 10 more points based on improvements in the resubmitted version.

If you miss the deadline, there are two subsequent deadlines for less than full credit. In either case, you forfeit the opportunity to improve your project based on feedback and resubmit.

  • up until 11:55 p.m. on September 29, 2015: you will lose the 7 “timeliness” points, thus the maximum possible scale is 95 points, or 95% (if you obtain all possible points, including above and beyond points)
  • up until midnight on October 6, 2015: you will lose the 7 timeliness points + have an additional “very late” penalty of -10 points subtracted from your score (thus the maximum possible if you miss both previous deadlines is 85 points, or 85% (and achieving that score with a very late project would require that you obtain all possible points, including above and beyond points).

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