Education:Geometry and the Art of Cartography



This lesson is created for my history students at an arts high school, therefore is attempting to fuse the student’s art with history/engineering.

Time Required for Completed Lesson

2 class periods/1 Block



6.2.12.A.2.a Determine how the principle ideas of the Enlightenment (e.g., rationalism, secularism, tolerance, empiricism, natural rights, contractual government, laissez-faire economics, promotion by merit, and new theories of education) altered political thought in Europe, and trace the impact of these ideas over time.

6.2.12.D.2.a Determine the factors that led to the Renaissance and the impact on the arts.

6.2.12.D.2.c Justify how innovations from Asian and Islamic civilizations, as well as from ancient Greek and Roman culture, laid the foundation for the Renaissance.

Common Core State Standards

Common Core State Standards:

RH.9-10.1. Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.

RH.9-10.10. By the end of grade 10, read and comprehend history/social studies texts in the grades 9–10 text complexity band independently and proficiently.


Handouts (included), instructor computer/projector, large classroom map, globe (if your lucky a few placed throughout the room), paper, pencils

Anticipatory Set

Instructor will use “Google Earth” to demonstrate the idea of the earth as a sphere and the latitude/longitude to demonstrate our location on the sphere. Student will analyze a Middle Age and a Renaissance painting and explain the difference in perspectives.


  1. Read and annotate “The Heritage of Giotto’s Geometry” p 1-5. Code the text writing a star next to what you think is the key idea or “thesis”. Write an exclamation point next to something that “clicked” for your or surprised you. Write question marks next to anything you are confused about. Underline any names or placed you see. (The class will commence in a discussion of the reading –especially any difficult words)
  2. Now that we understand when/where the geometric ideas rose from, have students hypothesize what this concept’s impact on the art of map making (cartography) might be. Show students a flat-earth map and a globe. Ask “which do you believe is more accurate” (the globe). Do you think a person who thinks of the earth, as “the flat map” understands that stars the one a person who think of the earth like a globe? (no).
  3. Students define Latitude/Longitude using your book or a dictionary.
  4. Instructor demonstrates the idea of the celestial sphere:
    1. Use the YouTube video on this link
    2. Ask why when navigating something like the sea where every direction looks the same latitude/longitude/celestial sphere are so important (when navigating you are navigating a sphere and therefore having clear measurements and points of reference is very important).
  5. Homework: Draw the earth a plot your city at the correct latitude/ longitude.


Adapt text for lower level.

Audio/visual supplements included


Check exit ticket for understanding and evaluate student annotations.


Readings attached


Write an exit ticket summarizing how the onset on geometry in the art of map making helped Europe become so powerful after the Renaissance.


Samuel Edgerton, “The Heritage of Giotto’s Geometry; Art, and Science on the Eve of the Scientific Revolution”, (Ithaca, N.Y.:Cornell University Press)