LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

With clever design, you can add even more dimensions to a map, using colors and symbols to represent different data. But maps that are visually busy can easily get confusing. Sometimes it’s best to use a series of maps.

These examples, from LEARN NC’s digital textbook for North Carolina history, present maps in a slideshow that students can navigate in two dimensions: time and place. Use the menu to select what type of data you want to see; use the slider to move through time.

Mapping a Changing North Carolina
The maps in this slideshow, drawn from U.S. Census data, show how various aspects of North Carolina’s population have changed over time and vary from place to place. The accompanying activity walks students through the maps, explaining demographic concepts and the nature of census data, and guides them to analyze the maps and the data they present.
North Carolina agriculture, 1860-2007
These maps show changes in North Carolina’s agriculture from the eve of the Civil War in 1860 to the present. In them, you can see three major changes over the past 150 years: New technology and increased production, the growth of professional farming, and concentration in agriculture.
North Carolina Elections, 1960-2010
Maps of North Carolina show county-by-county election results for president, governor, and U.S. Senate from 1960 to 2008, showing how party affiliation and voting patterns have varied by region and changed over time.

Unfortunately, maps like these — with information about population, voting, and economic production — place an extra burden on the reader. Now, you have to look not only at the cartography, but at the data represented as well. Let’s look at that next.