Lesson Plan - The Highways or the Byways: Mapping Routes In North Carolina

A Lesson Plan for Grades 7-9 Math and Geography

By Jennifer Job, School of Education, UNC-Chapel Hill

Students will use mathematical skills to choose the best routes for traveling around the state. Students will also use various Internet resources for determining and plotting distance and ratio of mph to time.

This lesson plan is available as a formatted worksheet which can be printed and distributed. Download the worksheet by clicking the title: highways_k12.pdf

Detail from North Carolina Official Highway Map, 1979.

Time Required: One block or two 50-minute class periods


Teacher Instructions:

  1. Pre-Instruction: Students need to know how to do basic equations to determine time vs. speed. Example: If one were to drive 55 mph, how long would it take him to drive 100 miles?
  2. Give students the Worksheet (.pdf) for this lesson plan. Assist them with the first three problems.
  3. Allow at least 45 minutes for the remainder of the Worksheet (.pdf).

Assessment: Teachers may collect the sheets to assess competency.

The Highways or the Byways: Mapping Routes In North Carolina

Work on the first three problems as a class.

  1. If Mary wanted to drive 125 miles at 45 mph, how long would it take her to reach her destination?

  2. John wants to drive to Charlotte. He will drive on a highway at 65 mph for 50 miles, and then on a side road at 40 mph for 25 miles. How long will it take him?

  3. Susie wants to drive to Wilmington for the summer. She lives 300 miles from the beach and wants to make the trip as quickly as possible. Should she take the highway at 55 mph for the entire 300 miles, or should she split the route: 100 miles on the 45 mph side road and 200 miles on the 65 mph superhighway?

Work on the next section alone.

Before starting the problems below, follow these instructions:

  • Open the North Carolina Maps site. Find the 1940 Highway Map on this site by following these steps: Using the Browse menu, search "Browse by Date," and click on 1940-1949. Click on the "North Carolina Primary Highway System" map.
  • You should see the map on your screen. Try zooming in and out on different parts of the map. Next, find the legend in the bottom right corner of the map.
    • US Highways (Red Lines): Speed Limit is 65 mph
    • State Highways (Blue Lines): Speed Limit is 55 mph
    • Gravel Roads (Dotted Blue): Speed Limit is 40 mph
    • Earth Roads (White/Blue): Speed Limit is 25 mph
  • In a separate window or tab, go to www.mapquest.com.

Problem One:

Mike works at the Durham Performing Arts Center. He has a two-week vacation and wants to visit his parents in New Bern. He has two route choices:

  • He can drive Highway 70 the entire way.
  • He can drive HWY 70 to Raleigh, HWY 64 to Wilson, HWY 117 to Mount Olive, and HWY 55 to New Bern.

Solve the following four questions to figure out the fastest way for Mike to get to his parents' house.

  1. Use Mapquest to find the distances between the following cities:
    • Durham to New Bern:____________miles
    • Durham to Raleigh:_____________miles
    • Raleigh to Wilson:_____________miles
    • Wilson to Mount Olive:_________miles
    • Mount Olive to New Bern:_______miles
  2. Using the speed limit for Highway 70 and the distance to New Bern, how long will it take Mike to drive straight from Durham to New Bern? (Remember the speed limits listed in the instructions!)

    _________ Hours
  3. How long will the second route take Mike? (Remember the different speed limits.)
    • Time from Durham to Raleigh:_________________
    • Time from Raleigh to Wilson:_________________
    • Time from Wilson to Mount Olive:_____________
    • Time from Mount Olive to New Bern:___________
    • Total time to New Bern:______________________ Hours

    How does this second route compare to the first route (driving straight from Durham to New Bern along Highway 70)?
  4. If Mike is caught in traffic on Highway 70 and is only moving at 35 mph, would it be faster for him to take the second route or stay on Highway 70? Show your work.

Problem Two:

Jane and Sally want to drive from Charlotte to Bakersville. They can choose one of two different routes:

  • Drive Hwy 29 to Hwy 64 to Garden City, then take the road to Hwy 26 to Bakersville.
  • Drive Hwy 74 to Hwy 221 to Hwy 26 to Bakersville.

Using the 1940 map to find speed limits and Mapquest to find distances, calculate which route would be quicker. Look at Problem One if you need a reminder of which steps to follow. Be sure to show all of your work!

Problem Three:

You want to take a road trip from Asheville to Fayetteville. On the way, you want to stop in Asheboro, Hickory, and Lenoir. List each road that you would take and calculate how long it would take for you to make the entire trip.

North Carolina Curriculum Alignment

Goal 4: The learner will understand and use graphs and data analysis.

Goal 5: The learner will demonstrate an understanding of linear relations and fundamental algebraic concepts.