Map Puzzles for You and Your Young Mappers

October 31, 2022

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Don't miss this opportunity to challenge your colleagues to a puzzle race for GIS Day!

Puzzles pique our curiosity, feed our need to explore, and on occasion, have us pulling out our hair.  For the GIS teacher or student, “GIS puzzles” will check all these boxes – and more.

Introduced by Charlie Fitzpatrick over 25 years ago, the puzzles below have been moved into ArcGIS Online and updated where necessary.  The puzzles provide clues and data layers for finding a special location on the planet. 


While every puzzle is different, teachers may want to note whether a convergent answer is available for the puzzle.  Such answers can either be in the form of a city name or a latitude-longitude.  In the case of lat-longs, we pad the acceptable responses by a degree or two on both the latitude and longitude.

At this time, the puzzles include:

  • Returning Raster (answer: automated check of lat-long)
  • The Lost City of Franklin Shaw (answer: automated check of city name)
  • The Case of the Missing Ship (answer: automated check of lat-long)
  • Wandering Juan’s Treasure (no posted answer)
  • The Left-handed Chocolate Caper (republished by B. Duke)
  • Magic Dan’s Extreme Sea and Ski Resort (answer: automated check of city name)
  • Bigfoot’s Brother  (no posted answer)
  • Clark Louis’ Bad Adventure (no posted answer)

The puzzles are listed in order of difficulty – where keen middle school students could certainly tackle the earlier puzzles. Since the puzzles have maps displayed in the map viewer, turning layers on/off, changing symbology, filtering, measuring and more are accessible.

Reproduced original blog post with permission from Tom Baker. 


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