One of the great things about the Google Earth platform is that it can be used by a variety of content area teachers, including history, math, science, ELA, PE, and beyond. Teachers can use the built-in learning resources to explore human origins, migration, historical landmarks, distance and measurement, weather and climate patterns, ecology, sports, and more. There's also no end to creative applications teachers could invent, like having students explore areas covered in class novels, addressed in current events, or mentioned in textbooks or other learning materials. Google Earth is so fast and easy to use, it can be used to give students an instant illustration of a particular place.
The website comes with many built-in options like the Voyager mode, classroom activities, and links to other credible resources. Some even include student worksheets, saving teachers lots of time. There are dozens of Google Earth groups on social media if teachers are interested in using the platform but are unsure of how or where to start.
Some ideas for classroom implementation:
- Use the Voyager option to access high-quality tours 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 tool 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 app for any learner. It doesn't require any training to start and has tools built in to help users gain new perspectives on the world. Students can search for specific locations or quickly zip manually across the globe. Students can see cities, the countryside, and famous landmarks in three dimensions. Street View allows students to explore areas from the ground. Turning on the Photos option surfaces user-contributed photos of those locations. Knowledge Cards give plenty of background info 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.
Google Earth supports a range of grade levels and abilities. For instance, elementary students might enjoy the ABCs from Space experience, while secondary students can explore 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.
Perhaps no other geographical tool offers quite as great of a combination of usability, engagement, and rich information as Google Earth does. And for free! Students of all ages can learn across content areas with this app. 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 do in-depth study of any location on Earth. If students seek background information and detail, they can use the search feature or Knowledge Cards. Through these and other features, they'll 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. At the end of their research, students can easily screenshot vivid images for a presentation.
Students and teachers can also go to the top of Bloom's taxonomy and create their own content. Both can upload new images onto the site, and/or make their own maps. To help, there are three online courses, available to everyone, that teach geocoding and mapping technologies as well as geography of the world and our cosmos.
One big caveat, however, is that this app doesn't provide teachers will data on student usage or a dashboard. However, if teachers are willing to create their own assessments, Google Earth provides all of the other necessary tools for students to be successful.
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.