Monday, September 10, 2007

Using Google Earth in the Classroom

Oops, wrong button. Sorry for those you using Google Reader. I didn't mean to post this twice today. I thought my cursor was there, but it was know how it goes. Its still pre-lunch on a rainy Monday. What do you expect?

Google Earth is technically nuts. I have never seen a project that I use a lot that I know so little about. Please, if you are an advanced Google Earth user, just move on to one of the other posts. I, unfortunately, can't give you anything on the advanced features. For those of us novice users or experimenters, you will find something that you should be able to sink your teeth into.
Google Earth is a free, downloadable application that is similar to Google Maps, but 500 times cooler. Many people around the world have added their own little bits of information to it through Google's online community. One of the biggest informants for me is Sightseer, Google's newsletter about new features and ideas using Google Earth. The latest version of Google Earth, 4.2, allows for you to see constellations in the night sky, as well as tour the world as if you were flying an airplane (controlling takes some time to master).
At its basic, it is a great tool for kids to see the world. If you are reading a story about England or studying the Middle East in social studies, you can take your students there and see what it really looks like, not what a book wants you to see, via satellite images. There is a database that allows you to control how much information is provided while you are spanning the globe. You can get content from National Geographic about indigenous people in Africa. The sightseeing feature allows you to take trips to some of the more famous areas or landmarks around the world. And that's just what comes standard. Google has provided TONS of "overlays", allowing you to see more and more of the world and more and more of the world in 3-D. You can even create your own 3-D versions of buildings using Google Sketch-Up. One great feature that I used last year in a science class was being able to show students volcanoes. Turning on the volcano layer allowed students to literally see why the Pacific Rim is called the "Ring of Fire." Each and every volcano popped up, with a short paragraph or phrase about what, if any, importance each had. Mount St. Helens is also in 3-D, so you are able to take your students on a trip around it.

You are also able to read about current events. One that I happened to open up was an article from the U.S. Holocaust Museum declaring, in 2004, a genocide emergency in Darfur.

In the news now, Google Earth has been asked to help in the search for Steve Fossett, the adventurer who has been missing after taking off from a Nevada air strip. His friend Richard Branson has asked Google to update its satellite images of the area over the past days to allow people using Google Earth to aid in the search from the comfort of their home.

To recap, Google Earth lets you travel around the world on your computer. There are hundreds of content areas and overlays that let you see everything from skyscrapers to fast food stops. It is a great educational tool that lets you take kid to far away places without having to get field trip permission slips. You'll never want to hop on a bus again.
09-11-2007 - Great minds think alike:
Apparently Google Earth read my mind or post, because today they posted a blog entry on using Google Earth in the classroom. Maybe more people are reading this than I expected.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Did you know that Google Earth Pro allows you to record your Google Earth trips? Cool!!