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Using a Transect Line 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.

Content Areas: Math, Science

Recommended Length/Duration: 45-60 minute period

Learning Goals: Students will learn to measure, record, and redraw data using a Transect line as a reference point.


  1. Discuss that archeologist frequently need to record data describing an area or object.  In order to do this a reference point must be established to take measurements from.   One system to establish reference points is to establish a Transect Line.  This may be an actual string or a series of points established along an imaginary line laid out over the study area.
  2. Boundaries, or the edges of an area, are measured from the Transect Line.  Measurement data can be recorded into a table, or mapped using a scale drawing of the Transect Line.
  3. Have students look at the shape of the shipwreck drawn on the worksheet.  Have them take measurements at each reference point on the transect line and record their data in the table. 
  4. From their measurements, have them make a ½ scale drawing of the shipwreck using the given transect line.

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.

Interested students may want to map an area of the classroom or school grounds using a transect line.

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