Teachers can use Google Earth as a supplement to all kinds of lessons, bringing the geography and topography of different locations to life. Students can perform searches, zoom around the Earth, study layers of weather, and study eye-level photos. It's a highly engaging and interactive way to juice up lessons, and the Google Earth Community online (accessible via one's browser) has a plethora of user groups, teaching ideas, and classroom learning resources. Some specific classroom ideas:
- Use the Voyager option, which is built into the app, to access high-quality educational material tied to locations around the globe and across time. This material covers travel, nature, culture, sports, history, education, science, and more.
- Use the Feeling Lucky option to visit a random destination, and create a lesson plan around that location.
- Use the measuring capabilities to have your students plan trips, compare distances, and calculate the height of mountains.
- Use Street View to walk down the street in a foreign city, retracing the footsteps of a historical figure.
- Search for the location that your class is covering in a lesson, and view photos from that area.
- Upload your own map files to customize a lesson of your own.
The Google Earth app is a must-see for any citizen of the modern age. Students can search for specific locations, or quickly manually maneuver across the globe, zooming in to show detail to the level of parked cars and even pedestrians. Many areas of the world are available to view in 3D, allowing students to see cities, the countryside, and famous landmarks in three dimensions. Street View allows students to get a view as if they're standing on the street, and turning on the Photos option allows access to user-contributed photos of those locations. Knowledge Cards give plenty of background information for locations as well as additional photos. The high-quality Voyager option has plenty of pre-built tours of historic locations, cultures around the world, geographic wonders, ecosystems, and even topics such as Myths and Legends. These tours can be starting points for classroom units or shorter lessons on their own.
Google Earth has up-to-date satellite imagery showing global temperatures, wind speed, precipitation, and more. The app also has a convenient option for taking a quick "postcard" snapshot, allowing students to save the image or send it to a friend. Distances between locations can be measured with the built-in distance tool. Users can save locations to their own My Places list, as well as import their own map files.
Searches and Feeling Lucky selections fly students across the globe using time-delayed satellite images of Earth and overlaid icons that provide facts and services. Students also can take screenshots of Google Earth views that show data sources at the bottom, which they can then share with the class. The initial tutorial orients students on how to use the app, but more in-depth help is accessible in the menu. Regular users of the Google Earth PC version will recognize the same content and similar functionality. Image quality is occasionally poor, but only when looking at areas without detailed satellite data.
Casual users will enjoy browsing the globe and reading through the Knowledge Cards, as well as running through all of the Voyager stories and tours. More serious users, as well as students who have in-depth assignments, can study any location on Earth in a great amount of depth. They can learn about current global weather patterns, physical and political geography, geology, ecosystems, cultures, architecture, and transportation networks. They can follow along in the steps of Marco Polo's journey to Asia, see where the early Vikings explored, learn about Oktoberfest, see the art of Frida Kahlo, or see all of the volcanic eruptions for the past 10,000 years. And since teachers can create their own maps and add them to the app, Google Earth can be worked in to lessons for virtually any topic. Students can also learn how to make their own maps.
Key Standards Supported
Geometric Measurement And Dimension
Identify the shapes of two-dimensional cross-sections of three- dimensional objects, and identify three-dimensional objects generated by rotations of two-dimensional objects.
Solve problems involving scale drawings of geometric figures, including computing actual lengths and areas from a scale drawing and reproducing a scale drawing at a different scale.
Draw (freehand, with ruler and protractor, and with technology) geometric shapes with given conditions. Focus on constructing triangles from three measures of angles or sides, noticing when the conditions determine a unique triangle, more than one triangle, or no triangle.
Describe the two-dimensional figures that result from slicing three- dimensional figures, as in plane sections of right rectangular prisms and right rectangular pyramids.
Solve real-world and mathematical problems involving area, volume and surface area of two- and three-dimensional objects composed of triangles, quadrilaterals, polygons, cubes, and right prisms.
Measurement And Data
Solve real world and mathematical problems involving perimeters of polygons, including finding the perimeter given the side lengths, finding an unknown side length, and exhibiting rectangles with the same perimeter and different areas or with the same area and different perimeters.
Apply the area and perimeter formulas for rectangles in real world and mathematical problems. For example, find the width of a rectangular room given the area of the flooring and the length, by viewing the area formula as a multiplication equation with an unknown factor.
Key Standards Supported
Earth and Human Activity
Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how the uneven distributions of Earth’s mineral, energy, and groundwater resources are the result of past and current geoscience processes.
Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth’s systems.
Analyze geoscience data and the results from global climate models to make an evidence-based forecast of the current rate of global or regional climate change and associated future impacts to Earth systems.
Use a computational representation to illustrate the relationships among Earth systems and how those relationships are being modified due to human activity.
Earth’s Place in the Universe
Use information from several sources to provide evidence that Earth events can occur quickly or slowly.
Identify evidence from patterns in rock formations and fossils in rock layers to support an explanation for changes in a landscape over time.
Evaluate evidence of the past and current movements of continental and oceanic crust and the theory of plate tectonics to explain the ages of crustal rocks.
Apply scientific reasoning and evidence from ancient Earth materials, meteorites, and other planetary surfaces to construct an account of Earth’s formation and early history.
Use and share observations of local weather conditions to describe patterns over time.
Develop a model to represent the shapes and kinds of land and bodies of water in an area.
Obtain information to identify where water is found on Earth and that it can be solid or liquid.
Obtain and combine information to describe climates in different regions of the world.
Make observations and/or measurements to provide evidence of the effects of weathering or the rate of erosion by water, ice, wind, or vegetation.
Analyze and interpret data from maps to describe patterns of Earth’s features.
Develop a model using an example to describe ways the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and/or atmosphere interact.
Develop a model to describe the cycling of Earth’s materials and the flow of energy that drives this process.
Construct an explanation based on evidence for how geoscience processes have changed Earth’s surface at varying time and spatial scales.
Analyze and interpret data on the distribution of fossils and rocks, continental shapes, and seafloor structures to provide evidence of the past plate motions.
Develop a model to describe the cycling of water through Earth’s systems driven by energy from the sun and the force of gravity.
Collect data to provide evidence for how the motions and complex interactions of air masses results in changes in weather conditions.
Develop and use a model to describe how unequal heating and rotation of the Earth cause patterns of atmospheric and oceanic circulation that determine regional climates.
Develop a model to illustrate how Earth’s internal and surface processes operate at different spatial and temporal scales to form continental and ocean-floor features.
Analyze geoscience data to make the claim that one change to Earth’s surface can create feedbacks that cause changes to other Earth systems.
Develop a model based on evidence of Earth’s interior to describe the cycling of matter by thermal convection.
Plan and conduct an investigation of the properties of water and its effects on Earth materials and surface processes.
Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem.
Develop a model to describe the cycling of matter and flow of energy among living and nonliving parts of an ecosystem.
Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.
Evaluate the claims, evidence, and reasoning that the complex interactions in ecosystems maintain relatively consistent numbers and types of organisms in stable conditions, but changing conditions may result in a new ecosystem.