We all remember those countless hours of sitting through geography class, memorizing countries and regions. Let’s be honest…it can be pretty boring to sit through a lecture about the countries of Africa. Why not use some modern technology to spice up your classroom? Google Earth can be used as a powerful educational technology.
Thanks to satellites, we have finally mapped out every part of the world. Google Earth acts as the ultimate virtual globe, showing users a real satellite view of the world. You can get close-up views of the tropical rainforests or place yourself in the streets of Paris. There’s even a flight simulator if you want to glide over the fjords of Iceland. There are tons of ways that Google Earth could be used in the classroom. Here are some potential activities and games.
Find local landmarks. Challenge students to find as many local landmarks as possible. Have them do a small project on the history of your area with a presentation that utilizes images from Google Earth. This will help students understand their own community within a broad global context.
Visit historical sites around the world. When studying geography and history, it’s important for students to be able to get up close and personal with the material. When discussing a particular battle, for instance, you might challenge students to speculate on how the geography of the region influenced the event in question.
Visit the canyons of Mars. If you’re studying the planets in class, Google Earth now has a feature that includes satellite imagery and 3D graphics of the Martian landscape. A virtual flight over the ancient river valleys of Mars is hard to beat in terms of an educational experience.
The best part about Google Earth is that many students have access to it at home, so they can play with it on their own time while hopefully learning something about the world.