These enrichment activities focus on geography and maths, looking at mapping the landscape and finding the centre.

This week’s primary enrichment activity asks pupils to consider why knowing the geographical centre of a place is considered to be so important and sets them the task of finding the centre of the school.

This week’s secondary enrichment activity asks pupils to consider the rapidly changing world and sets them the task of mapping an aspect of human activity as it might be in 500 years’ time.

***Primary Enrichment*** KS2: Mathematics

Problem solving

  • recognise the need for standard units of measurement
  • select and use appropriate calculation skills to solve geometrical problems
  • approach spatial problems flexibly, including trying alternative approaches to overcome difficulties
  • use checking procedures to confirm that their results of geometrical problems are reasonable


Why is it that knowing where the ‘centre’ of a place is to be found is so important to people? No one really knows why the centres of things matter − the centres of cities, of counties, of countries − but they do. The exact location of the geographic centre of the United Kingdom is a difficult thing to determine. The definition of exactly what one is measuring presents difficulties − for example, are all islands included in the calculation as well as the main mass of land? Also, over time coastal erosion alters the dimensions to be measured. Calculating the ‘centre’ is done using two principal methods: either by establishing the centroid of the two-dimensional shape (an enclosing outline of the country) or the point furthest from borders, land or coastal. Different methods give rise to different answers, which results in different places claiming that they are the true centre of the nation, as with Meriden in the West Midlands and the ‘Midland Oak’, which is found between Lillington and Leamington Spa in Warwickshire. The centre of the United States has, over the years, had to be recalculated, as new states joined the Union. When Alaska joined the Union, Butte County became the centre of the USA. When Hawaii became a state soon after, the centre moved again − to about 21 miles north of Belle Fourche.

Some questions for your pupils to consider and discuss:

  • How would they calculate the centre of their school?
  • What would they define as the perimeter of the school − the grounds or the buildings?


Finding the centre of the school

Going further

Children should be given an opportunity to determine the centre of the school. Some geographic centre locations are marked by ancient stone crosses, others by signposts and others again by flagpoles and beacons. How would children mark the centre of the school once it has been established and why? They could discuss the use that knowing where the centre of the school was could be put to, either in lessons or in helping the local community in some way.

Find the centre points of the United Kingdom

The definition of a centroid

Read the article ‘In the Middle of Nowhere, a Nation’s Center’

Read about Belle Fourche, South Dakota

Learning and teaching Scotland

5—14 Curriculum ‘In the early years problem solving can be developed through play and games. Later development will come through investigative approaches to teaching, open-ended investigative activities and the development of different strategies. Time for pupil-pupil and teacher-pupil discussion is essential in developing mathematical thinking.’

International Baccalaureate

The five essential elements − concepts, knowledge, skills, attitudes, action − are incorporated into this framework, so that students are given the opportunity to:

  • gain knowledge that is relevant and of global significance
  • develop an understanding of concepts, which allows them to make connections throughout their learning
  • acquire transdisciplinary and disciplinary skills
  • develop attitudes that will lead to international-mindedness
  • take action as a consequence of their learning.

***Secondary Enrichment*** KS3: Geography

Graphicacy and visual literacy

‘Pupils should be able to:

  • use atlases, globes, maps at a range of scales, photographs, satellite images and other geographical data
  • construct maps and plans at a variety of scales, using graphical techniques to present evidence.’

Mapping tomorrow

We can map the world as it is in many ways. Maps can record and display population densities, deserts, motorcycle ownership, the location of eels and patterns of ocean temperatures. People and groups who are successful are generally those who can accurately predict the future. Dr Kurzweil, a futurologist, predicted the extent of the internet, the application of computers, the spread of telephones and the growth in patents. His predictions have been accurate in the past. His more recent predictions indicate a rapidly changing world that will be with us in years rather than decades. In 15 years’ time, according to Dr Kurzweil, life expectancy will keep rising every year faster than your age. With the new tools available through nanotechnology, he says, by the 2020s we’ll be adding computers to our brains and building machines as smart as ourselves.

Some questions for your pupils to consider and discuss:

  • What will a map of the world look like in 500 years if the trends that are now in evidence continue to develop and influence the world?
  • What will be the key areas of technological development throughout the world? What will a ‘technological application’ map of the world show?
  • What would a mining interest map of the world show us in 500 years of the changes in mining and extraction activity?
  • Will the cities we are familiar with still be there in 500 years or will new locations have been established?

Children should choose an aspect of human behaviour or activity that interests them and consider the likely developments that will happen over 500 years. The important part of this activity is not simply predicting the future, it is how the map is constructed. The map should be made and presented in such a way as to enhance the data it contains and offers the viewer. This is, in fact, cartographic futurology in an appropriate visual, tactile or gastronomic medium. If the map is concerned with light pollution, for example, then an appropriate method of projection should be used. Similarly, if the map is about dairy products, perhaps the map could be made of cheese?


Mapping the future

Going further

With the resources available, the maps should be made and exhibited at a local art gallery, library or other appropriate venue.

Look at Strange Maps

Read the article ‘The Future Is Now? Pretty Soon, at Least’

Learning and teaching Scotland

Problem solving.

‘In all aspects of life, you will need to solve problems. Develop skills in critical thinking, planning, organising, reviewing and evaluating’.

International Baccalaureate.

‘Studying this subject provides for the development of a critical appreciation of:

  • human experience and behaviour
  • the varieties of physical, economic and social environments that people inhabit
  • the history of social and cultural institutions.’

This e-bulletin issue was first published in June 2008

About the author: John Senior is the author of Enrichment Activties for G&T Pupils. He is a teacher with 26 years’ experience of teaching Gifted and Talented children, working with parents and carers as a consultant on high ability, and peer mentoring.