Sonar, Radar, and Other Ways to Find Where You Are

Sonar, Radar, and Other Ways to Find Where You Are
Rosalynn Carter: Science, Medicine, Inventions and tech

Skill: Middle School
Time Required: At least two class periods


Submarines use sonar in order to navigate underwater hazards such as submerged mountains and reefs as well as to detect and locate other submarines.  As a submariner educated at the United States Naval Academy, Jimmy Carter became expert in the use and interpretation of sonar data—just as pilots and others become skilled in the use of radar.


The purpose of this lesson is to acquaint students with the military and civilian uses of sonar, radar, and other tracking and positioning systems such as GPS.    

Materials Required:

Access to the Internet; access to print reference materials.


1.  Divide the class into three groups or permit students to select their group based on their own interest in the three topics below.  It is the task of each group to answer the following questions and present their findings to the class in an informative and interesting format.

  • Radar
  • Sonar
  • Global Positions System

2.  Questions for each group:

  • What is the purpose of your system?  How is it used now?  Originally?
  • When was it developed? 
  • How does it work?

Extending the Lesson:

This lesson might be extended by including ultrasound technology in the research.

Sources & Resources:

Sonar on Wikipedia 

Radar on Wikipedia 

Global Positioning System on Wikipedia 

How Radar Works 

How GPS Receivers Work 

This lesson was developed by Bette Brooks, Kent State University.