# EZ Way To Explain UTM vs. Lat/Lon?

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Hello all,

I am new to geocaching and developing quite a love for it!

I was looking into becoming the Geocaching Merit Badge Councilor for my son's Boy Scout Troop. One of the things the kids have to do is be able to explain to me the difference between UTM vs. Latitude/Longitude and I am having a hard time finding a source that explains it in simple kid friendly terms or with a simple kid friendly analogy. And honestly I think I need it explained to me in more simple terms

Does anyone have a simple way to explain it to kids as young as 10?

Thanx in advance for any guidance.

When I explain the difference to scouts that just crossed over, I do the following.

I give them meter sticks with no markings on them. It is ONE METER, that's it. I have them measure the room with the meter stick.

Then I give them a meter stick with CM marking on it. Have them remeasure the room. They get a better measurement and more accurate reading that way.

I compare LAT/LONG and UTM that way. LAT/ LONG are GREAT for measuring and giving directions over a long distance. Flying, driving to another city or state, ocean voyages, etc. It will get you there.

UTM breaks it down into more digits and you can use it for precise coordinates. The UTM was developed by the military during WW1 to guide shelling and bombing targets. You would want very accurate coordinates for that! WE use UTM now as the math portion for GPS units. The unit translates it back to LAT/LONG for us to read.

Does that help?

That sooooo helps!! Thank you!!!

I'm doing this, too. I'm not sure how much you've read about it, but imagine a globe, and draw a grid on it. Then imagine peeling the paper off of the globe and laying it flat...the lines would meet at the top because of the original spherical shape. The UTM grid makes an adjustment for this so that the grids are square, parallel to the central meridian, and small enough so that there's not as much distortion. If you had some photocopies of a world map with the latitude and longitude lines, they could make their own (very basic) version by drawing their own UTM grid over it. For the easting and northing parts, think of it as marking X and Y coordinates on a simple graph; it's very similar with the easting (X) figured first, and then moving up to the northing (Y). We're definitely letting the GPSr do the math for us, since changing coord systems seems really complex.

I haven't quite decided if that's the exercise I'm going to do, but it seems the easiest. Then we'll use a real topo with the UTM grid on it and plot a point with the grid overlay tool. Someone mentioned that one can make smaller marks than the tool has to be more accurate. Here's the link to my forum post about it. Honestly, I've read a ton of websites about it, and I still think I'm going to ask a couple of people to work with me on a real topo so that I know I get it.

If you come up with any great ideas, I'd love to hear about it.

BTW, I think www.maptools.com/UsingUTM/quickUTM.htm was one of the ones most easy to understand.

Edited by markcase

Awesome! Thank you!

In all of my reading that is the way I thought I understood it as well.

In all of my googling around I came across a Merit Badge Counselor who, if you e-mail him, will send you a very nicely done, very thorough Power Point Presentation that he uses to teach the badge including UTM worksheets. Everything is editable so you can swap out maps that are more relevant to your area. E-mail me rhondagarran @ msn . com if you would like his addy.

Invite him to the forum and ask if he would like to post it here. Sounds like a good resource for everyone!

I will do that!

Awesome! Thank you!

In all of my reading that is the way I thought I understood it as well.

In all of my googling around I came across a Merit Badge Counselor who, if you e-mail him, will send you a very nicely done, very thorough Power Point Presentation that he uses to teach the badge including UTM worksheets. Everything is editable so you can swap out maps that are more relevant to your area. E-mail me rhondagarran @ msn . com if you would like his addy.

Great resource, thanks! I have a volunteer at work who did mapping for the USGS...I'm hoping he can either help teach or teach me, though I suspect his explanation might go over my head and include the words, "It's really easy!"

Hi, I am the merit badge counselor who contacted Rhonda G. If anyone else would like my Powerpoint slides for Geocaching merit badge contact me and I will be glad to send them to you too.

Hi, I am the merit badge counselor who contacted Rhonda G. If anyone else would like my Powerpoint slides for Geocaching merit badge contact me and I will be glad to send them to you too.

I would very much like to take you up on your offer of a powerpoint presentation about UTM. Please send it to the following Email: kjustice@midviewk12.org. Thank you ! Dave (geocache name dbskysoldier)

Hi, I am the merit badge counselor who contacted Rhonda G. If anyone else would like my Powerpoint slides for Geocaching merit badge contact me and I will be glad to send them to you too.

I am wondering I could possible get a copy of that powerpoint. I am doing a Merit Badge clinic in December on Geocaching. I am struggling understanding the concept. I have another fellow local cacher who is going to help me out with it, but more information we have to teach these great boys would be awesome. My email is seabecktribe@gmail.com.

Greatly appreciated,

Lori

Have you looked at this to help with your quest for knowledge?

On 5/7/2013 at 1:46 PM, captnkirk17 said:

Hi, I am the merit badge counselor who contacted Rhonda G. If anyone else would like my Powerpoint slides for Geocaching merit badge contact me and I will be glad to send them to you too.

I know this post was from many years ago but I would love it if you could provide me with the slides as well as we have several boys working on this currently.

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