Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Staring down the map-making barrel

I love maps. Looking at 'em, using them, collecting them and - more recently - making them. Even before I even start I know that it is going to take hours. Lots and lots and lots of hours to make the map. That's the nature of the beast. Getting started is like staring down the barrel of a gun but once you get started - drawing in borders, building outlines, fences, walls and roads - then making the map gets less scary.

Next week I'm involved with the Mindworx programme at Sacred Heart College. It's the most wonderful programme where the primary school children spend the last week of the third term doing a variety of activities. They rotate through different activities every hour during the school day for the whole week. There's baking, drumming, singing, science, arts, wildlife, crafts, sports and many other interesting themes to inspire the children.

Back in 2005 and 2007 (only held every second year) I ran orienteering activities at the school for Mindworx, working with more than double the number of children in 2007 than previously. I couldn't make it in 2009 and I'm delighted to have been invited back.

I wrote about the 2007 Mindworx on this blog, mentioning a young boy, Dylan. As it turns out, he and his dad did come to orienteering for a while - until they immigrated. They returned to SA two or three years ago and they have returned to orienteering too.

So, for this year's Mindworx - as I'm older and wiser - I have a number of fun activities planned that are very different to those I did back in 2005 and 2007, especially as I've got a wide range of ages to accommodate. The classes range from 20 to 34 children each in Grades 1 to 6. And throughout the week I'll get to play orienteering games with 350 children! Goodness gracious!

I decided to update the school map, which was originally drawn by Ian Bratt. While there weren't that many changes to the property, I thought it would be nice to upgrade the map from the standard symbol set to the sprint map format, where things like corridors and underpasses are indicated. I've added quite a lot more detail too, with the aim of using this school for one of our Orienteering Schools League (OSL) events next year (or the year after).

Part of Ian Bratt's map, which was drawn many, many years ago. It's a good map and perfectly sufficient for orienteering. You're definitely not going to be confused or lost. You'll notice that the buildings are all in black. This is the standard symbol set. A few years ago a Sprint symbol set was developed - specifically for urban areas (schools, university campuses, towns) where building colours (dark grey and light gray) allow us to show canopies (shade cover, corridors) as well as passages through buildings.

My draft - and notes following second school visit to check out detail, alignment of buildings and such. This is a very wonky campus where nothing is inline with anything else. 
Almost there... I still have a few little bits to fix up here and there.
I've also received permission from the school to put in a permanent course. I'll leave maps behind with a number of course variations so that they can be used during Phys Ed lessons or as an extracurricular sports warm-up activity.

I'm almost done with the map, which has taken me about two days to draw plus two visits to the school to walk the terrain. Just to add the legend, logos, scale and all the prettinesses that finish it off properly. I've drawn the map in OCAD (most-used orienteering mapping software worldwide), which I'm not that good at - but getting better with practise. I used Google Earth for the base map (sections stitched together for better accuracy), which isn't great, but it works.

There's too much detail on the map for Grade 1s, but I think it will stand up to use for short-course and OSL events. And the little details, like the large cement flower pots in the main quad, allow for control locations.

I won't use the whole map for the Mindworx activities (keeping the kiddies close!), but I look forward to presenting it to the school with their permanent O course.


Robert Green said...

Love my maps also. When I travel I always look for the maps at the local information centre. I was filing them by region as my box was getting too small, probably have a couple of hundred. Also have a SA map book of the road that I highlight when I go down that road. The map book is 14 years old, battered and rebound a few times but full of memories. Like photographs, maps to me are like a key to unlock memories.

adventurelisa said...

Ooohhh... Robert, I love the idea of the SA map book with roads highlighted ;)