Figure 5 A cycle map shows events that occur in a cycle.

Spider Map A type of concept map that you can use for brainstorming is the spider map. When you have a central idea, you might find that you have a jumble of ideas that relate to it but are not necessarily clearly related to each other. The spider map on sound in Figure 6 shows that if you write these ideas outside the main concept, then you can begin to separate and group unrelated terms so they become more useful.

Cycle Map A specific type of events chain is a cycle map. It is used when the series of events do not produce a final outcome, but instead relate back to the beginning event, such as in Figure 5. Therefore, the cycle repeats itself.

To make a cycle map, first decide what event is the beginning event. This is also called the initiating event. Then list the next events in the order that they occur, with the last event relating back to the initiating event. Words can be written between the events that describe what happens from one event to the next. The number of events in a cycle map can vary, but usually contain three or more events.

through solids through liquids \\ through gases outer ear middle ear inner ear outer ear middle ear inner ear

Forest Structure Map Diagram
Figure 6 A spider map allows you to list ideas that relate to a central topic but not necessarily to one another.

Diamond (atoms arranged in cubic structure)

Diamond (atoms arranged in cubic structure)

Graphite (atoms arranged in layers)


Graphite (atoms arranged in layers)


Figure 7 This Venn diagram compares and contrasts two substances made from carbon.

Venn Diagram To illustrate how two subjects compare and contrast you can use a Venn diagram. You can see the characteristics that the subjects have in common and those that they do not, shown in Figure 7.

To create a Venn diagram, draw two overlapping ovals that that are big enough to write in. List the characteristics unique to one subject in one oval, and the characteristics of the other subject in the other oval. The characteristics in common are listed in the overlapping section.

Make and Use Tables One way to organize information so it is easier to understand is to use a table. Tables can contain numbers, words, or both.

To make a table, list the items to be compared in the first column and the characteristics to be compared in the first row. The title should clearly indicate the content of the table, and the column or row heads should be clear. Notice that in Table 1 the units are included.

Table 1 Recyclables Collected During Week

Day of Week

Paper (kg)

Aluminum (kg)

Glass (kg)


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