Information and communication technology for Tour Guides/Activities/Map and compas

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To be able to use a compass with or without a map to locate geographic positions and establish and maintain direction of travel.

Resources needed

  • A 360 degree housing, magnetic compass with transparent base
  • A 1:25 000 - 1:50 000 topographic map of an area you can be located in for this activity


The map

  • Orientate the map to North
  • Based on the landmarks around you can you identify their position on the map?
  • What is the scale of the map?
  • Does the map have grid referencing?
  • Does the map show magnetic and grid North and if so what is the degree of magnetic variation, what year was this true for, and what is the variation today?

The compass

  • Does your compass appear to point consistently towards North?
  • Does your compass' have a housing that rotates and has units in degrees?
  • With a partner not watching, point your level compass at a landmark not more than 20 yards from you.
  • Rotate the compass housing so that it aligns with the North needle and read the degree bearing
  • Remembering the bearing, rotate the housing off that bearing and pass the compass to your partner and have them stand in exactly the same location as you where when you took the bearing.
  • Tell your partner the reading you took and see if they can use the compass to locate the landmark 20 metres away.

The compass and the map

  • Point your level compass at a landmark you have identified on the map, and rotate the compass' housing to line up with North
  • Read the degree bearing on the housing and add the grid to magnetic North variation
  • Place the compass on the map so that one side intersects with the landmark represented on the map
  • Move the whole compass around (keeping a side on the landmark) until the housing lines align with the map's grid lines
  • When you are happy that the compass' housing lines line up with the map's grid lines, and that the side of the compass intersects with the landmark represented on the map, draw a line on the map through the landmark along the compass in a direction that is towards your general position on the map.
  • Do this again for 2 more landmarks. The 3 lines will intersect and create a triangle. Your location is somewhere inside that triangle.