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Students in my Archeology class are learning how to make a sketch map of an archeological site in a lab called "Sketch Mapping Madness." Every map must have a scale to allow the reader to translate the sizes represented in the drawing. That means you have to measure the sizes and distances of things you are recording. Archeologists use various tools to measure size, from simple tape measures to laser rangefinders. A simple and time-proven way to measure horizontal distance is the pace method. Roman armies used this method, and the word “mile” traces its root to the Latin word for one thousand (mile). A mile is approximately 1000 paces.

A pace is equal to one natural step, about 80 cm long for most people. So to walk a precise 100 cm (1 meter) pace, you have to practice your "pace gate." Students practiced their pace gate along a 20-meter course marked every 1 meter in the upper corridor at the high school. They were then asked to measure the distance between the office door and the back wall of the commons area on the first floor using their pace. Most students measured the distance to within a 1-3 meter precision.

Over the next few days, students will used their pace to map the northeast corner of the high school yard to create a scaled representation on graph paper.