My kids are in the stage of asking “why?” and “how?” and frequently stump me with their curious interrogations. Recently my daughter asked: “How are globes made?” “Well, they take some cardboard and cut it so that they can glue it together into a sphere….” She was dubious and wanted more specifics. Luckily I found this wonderful clip on youtube that shows globes being made in the factory.
After her questions were answered, we began our craft:First, you’ll need a globe template. There are many high-quality templates that can be printed on-line. Here is one from Canon’s Creative Park, and another from the Royal Museums Greenwich.
How are globes made? This was hard for my 7 year old, and was very collaborative between us! Before cutting out the template, do you notice how there is white space between the edges at the poles? This is a great time to reinforce how hard it is to make a globe into a flat map: to create a flat map, cartographers need to stretch continents to fill in these white spaces. The continents and oceans at the north and south poles are the most distorted, making Greenland looks as large as South America on some maps. This is called the Mercator Projection:
Greenland (2,166,086 km²) is in fact much smaller than Australia (7,741,220 km²), South America (17,821,029 km²), and Africa (30,200,000 km²). Fourteen Greenlands can fit inside Africa!
Flattening the globe surface distorts and changes the distance and appearance of our the continents and oceans. The globe is a sphere, and it is impossible to smash a 3D sphere into a flat rectangle. I had seen an idea here and here to make a globe out of an orange, and then try to cut it apart and “flatten” the world.
Moral of the story: it’s hard to make the world flat!