Scale drawing activities for middle school students enforce a variety of skills and knowledge including artistic ability, spacial awareness, geometry pre-algebra and ratios. Although middle school students are unlikely to produce draftsmen-quality architectural sketches, they can replicate one-dimensional images at reduced or increased size. Begin activities with interactive discussions about the terminology associated with scale drawings.
Introduce students to the concept of scale through maps and globes. Use a large map to demonstrate the scale measurements for distance. Calculate the distance between two map points by converting the scale measurement to miles or kilometers. Divide the class into groups of four students; let each group examine several maps and globes, either in the classroom, in their textbooks or on the Internet. Groups record the various scales used on the maps and calculate the distance between two points on each map. After they have done their research, ask the students to re-create a map of their state using their own scale measurements. Calculate the distance from the students' town to the state capitol on each map according to the scale provided and discuss which maps seem accurate and which seem inaccurate.
Students who have a basic understanding of ratios can create original scale maps of their surroundings. Divide the class into pairs of students. Each pair selects a classroom, hallway or other section of the school building. The pair must create a to-scale map of their designated area. Allow students to select their own scale, but demonstrate the difficulty of selecting a ratio that is too small or too large. Show students how to take measurements and then translate them to scale through ratio division. Have each pair of students present their map to the class at the end of the assignment.
Comic Strip Cells
Use comic strip cells in a basic lesson about increasing the scale of a drawing or object. Each student should bring in a single comic-book cell, and measure and record the length of each edge of the cell. Students create a grid inside their cell composed of 1/4-inch boxes. Students draw a grid on an 8 1/2-by-11-inch piece of paper composed of an equivalent number of 1-inch squares. Students then re-create the comic strip image by isolating one square in the 1/4-inch grid and increasing the image's size to fit into the 1-inch square on the larger grid. Students can color the images once completed and hang the posters in the classroom.
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