Young Designers: Location and Transformation

1. Urban Designs

Suggested Learning Intentions

  • To develop spatial awareness through thinking and reasoning about direction, distance, and location

Sample Success Criteria

  • I can create a map as a visual representation of places
  • I can locate various places on a map using the coordinate system
  • I can describe routes to take when getting from one place to another
  • I can explain my solution using a variety of manipulatives

Urban Designs enables students to develop their understanding of location, direction, maps, and plans. Students learn to use suitable language to describe direction, distance, and position. They do this through exploring maps, designing a suburb for their new house, and selecting suitable routes to travel from one place to another. Students will explore other aspects of designing their dream house in the following stages of this learning sequence.

Tune students in with a discussion about the features they would like included if they were to build their dream home in their ideal suburb.  What facilities would they like to have in their neighbourhood? Ask them what they think they would need to consider when building a home. Record student responses on an anchor chart for referral throughout the learning sequence.

Explain that over the next few lessons they are going to pretend to be architects and designers to design their dream home, beginning with selecting the location of their house, followed by designing the floor plan, proposing the exterior design of their house, planning the interior decor of a room, and investigating furniture designs.

Begin the sequence by providing students opportunities to explore various forms of maps, such as atlases, street directories and digital maps. Discuss the similarities and differences between them. A Venn diagram can be used as a tool to note these.

Introduce students to another form of digital map - the Mini Melbourne world on Minecraft: Education Edition and allow students to explore the world.

Introduce students to the 3-dimensional coordinate system in Mini Melbourne world, which can be seen on the upper left corner.

As students wander around the streets of Mini Melbourne, draw their attention to the coordinates and discuss why and how the numbers are changing as they are moving. Discuss what the x, y and z coordinates mean in Minecraft: Education Edition.

In Mini Melbourne, the first number on the coordinate refers to the ‘x’ coordinate, the second number is the ‘y’ coordinate, and the third number is the ‘z’ coordinate. ‘x’ is the east/west direction, ‘y’ is up/down when the character flies or jumps and ‘z’ is the north/south direction.

Encourage students to give directions for their peers to walk along the Mini Melbourne streets to get to places of interest, noting the coordinates of the locations. Students can also complete the Scavenger Hunt activity in Mini Melbourne to note the key sites and buildings within the world.


Enable students by creating a world within Minecraft: Education Edition with reduced number of landmarks and allowing students to familiarise themselves with identifying the x, y and z coordinates of various locations on this simplified map. When students are more confident, encourage them to explore and find various locations in Mini Melbourne, noting their coordinates.

Extend students by encouraging them to investigate the longitude and latitude of Melbourne and explore what these numbers mean. Encourage students to identify the longitude and latitude of various locations in Melbourne city using Google Maps. Challenge students to explore the longitude and latitude of other cities in Australia and other countries and describe how these geographical coordinates change with each city.

1. Treasure hunt

Begin by having a discussion with students about the differences between a ‘straight line’ distance and travel distance. It may be useful to pose a prompting question such as, “If I am standing at Marvel Stadium and I head 5km west, where will I arrive?”

Allow students to explore the problem, encouraging them to find different solutions and invite them to share their findings. Observe if students measure 5km from Marvel Stadium and draw a straight line towards the west (straight line distance) or do they find 5km of the total distance when they travel over a road network (travel distance)?

If students have not already suggested this, it may be beneficial to model how to use the Measure Distance function on Google Maps on a computer to find the distances between locations:

  • Right click on the starting point.
  • Select Measure Distance.
  • Click anywhere on the map to create a path to measure. To add another point, click anywhere on the map again.
  • A pop-up window will appear, indicating the total distance in kilometres.
  • Drag a path or point to move it, or click a point to remove it.

Explain to students that they are going to develop their map reading skills through a game of Treasure Hunt using the map of Melbourne. They will read a set of clues and work out where the treasure may be. The following set of instructions and clues can be used:

1. Read each clue and record the key point of interest for each one:

a) I am watching animals, north-east of the West Gate Bridge and north of Southern Cross Station. Where am I? (Melbourne Zoo)

b) I am in a beautiful park, north-east of Marvel Stadium and west of Collingwood Railway Station. The park is home to an exhibition centre. Where am I? (Carlton Gardens)

c) I am in a heritage-listed building within an extensive garden, south-east from the National Gallery of Victoria and north-east from the Shrine of Remembrance. Where am I? (Government House)

2. The first letter of each solution is the acronym of an iconic landmark where the treasure is held. Where is the treasure? (MCG)

Encourage students to estimate distances between various locations with the scale function on Google Maps, then measure them using the Google Measure tool and compare with their estimates.

After students have located the treasure, challenge them to measure distances with this activity:

Imagine that the treasure is locked in a safe with a lock that requires a four-digit code. Break the code by solving these problems:

a) How many train stations are within 2 km of where the treasure is located?

b) How many kilometres is University of Melbourne, Parkville campus away from the location of the treasure? (Round this to the nearest kilometre.)

c) How far away is Ron Barassi Senior Park? (Round this to the nearest kilometre.)

d) What is the distance between Eureka Skydeck and Rod Laver Arena? (Round this to the nearest kilometre.)


Enable students by supporting them to complete the Treasure Hunt on Google My Maps. Access to Google My Maps requires teachers or students to log in to a Google account.

After reading a clue, guide students to draw a line beginning from the starting point in the compass direction stated. For example, with the first clue, students may start at West Gate Bridge and draw a line in the north-east direction. They can then draw another line starting from Southern Cross Station and in a north direction. Students can find the point that these lines meet as a guide to solve the clue.


After students have found the treasure, extend students by encouraging them to write clues to their own Treasure Hunt. Suggest that they write the clues with 16-point compass directions and that they increase precision by indicating the distances between locations

2. Drawing maps

Students imagine that they are town planners, and they are going to create a suburb in which their new house will be built. Discuss the features or facilities that are essential for a new suburb and what may be some features or facilities that are beneficial but not necessary for a suburb.

Explain that they will create a scaled map of what their suburb looks like, which includes ten different places of interest or landmarks. Encourage students to choose an appropriate scale. Demonstrate how to draw a scaled map to scaffold students if needed.

Include some regulations of the urban design to prompt problem-solving, such as:

  • The post office is north of your house
  • A school is south-west of the post office
  • The swimming pool is within 3km of a cafe
  • A supermarket is 4.5km east of the cafe

Invite students to share their completed maps with their peers and explain how they have met the regulations of the design.

Explain to students that when a new suburb is developed, developers usually produce advertising brochures to entice people to visit or live there. It may be beneficial to show students examples of town brochures and visitor information maps. Inform students that they will use their maps as part of an advertising brochure and ask them to write the list of ten places of interest or landmarks that can be found in their new suburb.


Enable students by reducing the number of regulations for their new suburb. For example, they create a map where the post office is north of their house and a school is south of the post office. Encourage students to include other landmarks that they wish to have in their suburb and describe their location in relation to grid coordinates. Support students to use a simplified scale of 1 cm = 1 km.

Extend students by modifying the scale factor for the map, for example 1 cm = 2 km. Students can also explore more complex compass directions such as North-North-West.

3. Giving directions on a map

Explain to students that the next step in creating their suburb’s advertising brochure is to develop a set of directions for visitors to the suburb to conduct a self-guided tour.

There are a few criteria for developing directions for the self-guided tour, for example:

  • The tour needs to start and finish at the same location
  • The tour must allow visitors to visit each of the ten places of interest that students had listed in the previous step

Encourage students to use suitable directional language, compass directions and distance when writing directions.

When students have completed the task, invite them to share their set of directions with their peers and encourage them to give peer feedback, indicating two compliments and suggesting an area of improvement.


Enable students requiring further support by guiding them to focus on one aspect of the directions. For example, students may begin their set of directions by focusing on compass direction only, such as, “Head north to the skate park.” As students become more confident, encourage them to include distance. For example, their instruction could be, “Head north for 2km and you will arrive at the skate park.”

Extend students by challenging them to find the shortest route to travel to all ten places of interest, without going past the same place twice. What will be the longest route? 

Areas for further exploration

1. Following a mathematical algorithm

Examining location and movement in this stage can be complemented by the exploration of mathematical algorithms. In Level 5, students will follow a mathematical algorithm involving branching and repetition (iteration) (VCMNA194). They design, modify and follow simple algorithms represented diagrammatically and in English, involving sequences of steps, branching, and iteration (VCDTCD032)

Introduce students to code simple instructions using an algorithm through the Blocky Maze game. Show students how to use the ‘drag and drop’ program to create a program code and solve puzzles. As students progress further up each level, they need to create more efficient code by using less instructions.

Alternatively, show students how to code with algorithms, loops, and conditionals with, where students can use block codes to solve problems.

This stage aims to develop student understanding of direction, distance and location through designing, reading and interpreting maps. Formative assessment of student learning in this stage of the sequence could include discussions with students and encouraging them to explain reasons for their thinking, using questioning prompts as suggested in the 'Go deeper' phase.

Urban Designs exposes students to a range of mathematical skills and concepts which you may wish to review and consolidate with students. Consider the progress made by students when determining which skills and concepts you select to review.

1. Interpreting maps

To assess if students have gained understanding reading symbols and scales, reading coordinates, and identifying compass directions, invite them to create a Treasure Hunt for their peers, based on a map of their choice such as:

  • If I walk 3 km west of the Flinders Street Station, I will arrive at a playground. Is this true?
  • Arriving at Southern Cross Station, I should head east to get to the MCG.
  • Hosier Lane stretches for about 2 km. True or false?
  • The Immigration Museum can be found on this coordinate. True or false?

While students are creating and sharing their questions with their peers, observe the strategies students use to create these questions and justify their answers to determine if students have grasped the concept of map reading.


Enable students requiring further support by allowing students to ask questions about one aspect of the map, such as the compass direction, the coordinates or distance. For example, students may ask, “The Immigration Museum is to the west of Flinders Street Station. Is this true?” or "Flagstaff Gardens is 100 m south of the Queen Victoria Market; is this correct?"

Extend students by encouraging them to describe the distance between landmarks more accurately using the scales. For example, students may develop the following questions:

  • The MCG is 1.5 km east of Flinders Street Station.
  • Melbourne Museum is 2.4 km north-east of Southern Cross Station. Is this true?

2. Describing location and giving directions

Check for student understanding of using coordinates to describe location and to give directions by first having them create a map of a park in their new suburb, which includes various features such as a zip line or an outdoor water slide.

Ask them to write a set of directions to get to various locations in the park. For example, 'How do you get from the fountain to the skate park?'

Check that students have used coordinates, accurate directional language, compass directions and distance when writing their directions. For example, 'From the fountain, head north along Cycle Lane for 2km.'

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