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Using a Reference Grid to Record Data

Name of Corresponding Unit Plan: Archaeological Documentation

Grade Level: 9-12

Common Core Standards:
RS9-10. 3. Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks, attending to special cases or exceptions defined in the text.

Math G-MG.3. Apply geometric methods to solve design problems (e.g., designing an object or structure to satisfy physical constraints or minimize cost; working with typographic grid systems based on ratios).

Content Areas: Math, Science

Recommended Length/Duration: 45-60 minute period

Learning Goals: Students will learn to measure, record, and redraw data using a reference grid system.


  1. Discuss that archeologist frequently need to record data describing an area or object.  In order to do this reference points must be established to take measurements from.   One system to establish reference points is to lay a reference grid over the area.  This may be an actual string or metal grid or a series of points established along imaginary lines laid out over the study area.
  2. Describe how objects found within each reference square of the grid are measured and recorded based on the reference lines established by the grid.
  3. Have students look at the debris field drawn on the worksheet.  Have them take measurements to identify the location of each object and record their data on the table.
  4. From their measurements, have students redraw the debris field on another grid.

Assessments: Check worksheets for accuracy.

Materials/Resources: Worksheets, Rulers

Special Considerations: Scientific measurements are generally easier to take and calculate in metric than in English units.  Additional work may be needed if students are not familiar with metric measurements, or if the teacher chooses to use English units.

Extensions: Interested students may want to map an area of the classroom or school grounds using a grid system.

Interested students may want to research other fields that use similar reference systems.