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ZingPath: Earth's Topography and Mapping

The Shape of the Earth

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Earth's Topography and Mapping

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The Shape of the Earth

Earth & Space Science

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You will discover new details about the use of globes, maps, and satellite images. Use your skills to locate lost hikers using topographical maps and track down an international jewel thief using latitudes and longitudes.

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Now You Know

After completing this tutorial, you will be able to complete the following:

  • Explain the shape of the Earth.
  • Explain historical ideas about the shape of the Earth.

Everything You'll Have Covered

What did other civilizations believe about Earth's shape before Aristotle proved it to be spherical?

~ Before Aristotle's observations, the Chinese believed the world was a flat rectangle. Ancient Babylonians, Indians, Egyptians, and Mayans believed the world was a flat circle.

How did Aristotle demonstrate that the Earth is spherical?

~ Aristotle made a number of observations about the Earth's shape. He observed that the position of the stars in the sky varies from different locations on Earth and that during eclipses, the shadow of the Earth on the moon's surface is circular.

What occurred during the Age of Exploration to solidify the belief that the Earth is round?

~ During the Age of Exploration, it was observed that the sails of approaching ships were first seen from land, followed by their hulls. Additionally, in the early sixteenth century, Ferdinand Magellan sailed westward and returned to the same place three years later.

What have measurements proven about the shape of the Earth?

~ Measurements taken during the eighteenth century proved that the Earth is not perfectly spherical. It is flattened on the poles and swollen on the equator. Because of this, Earth is called a geoid.

Tutorial Details

Approximate Time 3 Minutes
Pre-requisite Concepts Students should have a general understanding of Earth, flat circle, and geoid.
Course Earth & Space Science
Type of Tutorial Animation
Key Vocabulary Earth, flat circle, geoid