Google Map Activity (Multivariable)

Links to Activity

Google Maps link

The template can’t be uploaded. Email me and I’ll send it to you, as well as the questions and answers (see Contact).

Main Concepts

Multivariable Calculus

Directional derivative



50 minutes in class

Summary of Activity

Summary of activity: The teacher shares a googlemap filter of his/her creation with the students. The googlemap is filled with a thousand pins all over the world. By going to pin number 1, students discover a question. The answer to that question is a number which leads to the corresponding pin. In that new location, if the answer the student found is wrong, there will be nothing. But if the answer is correct, there will be a message of congratulations, as well as the next question in the travel. Value is added if the locations on the map have a signification. For example, I attached a photo to each pin that showed me during different stages of my life as I was in those locations, like for example my hometown when I was a teenager, or places I went on my travels.

Notes and Insights

The template I created above is a good way to start. It contains all the numbers from 1 to 999. I used this website to generate the points at random and then moved them off the oceans manually. Email me if you want to save yourself a few hours and I’ll send it to you (WordPress doesn’t let me upload it). 

Each teacher will still have to move the pins around to get them where they want. Currently, the first three are situated at my school (Korea International School).

In the Google Map Activity I designed, students study the three decimals of their answers in order to find the next location.

A valuable improvement we can make to this activity as we observe students finding their way through the problems is to take note of the wrong locations they reach. By asking them for their thought process, we identify their mistakes, and we can start adding immediate feedback comments at those locations explaining to students who get there why the solution is wrong (and add hints to the right method).

Another idea is to add scaffolding locations that students have the option to go to if needed. In a given question, we can suggest to go to a different number to see some helping information.

It can happen that a location is reached for the wrong reason while it is the correct answer to another exercise. It has happened to me! I fixed the problem by changing a question slightly. But it shows that we shouldn’t overcrowd a google map with too many questions. It is better to start a new activity if we have too many questions. More than twenty questions is definitely too much.