Google Earth (and Maps) Gems


Today I actually had a few minutes during SSR (silent sustained reading for the non-educators) to actually read. Kind of strange I know, but normally I am playing catch up with these precious 17 minutes. During SSR I decided to see how far I had fallen behind of my all of my online reading (it wasn’t pretty – 400 posts). For those of you who don’t know I subscribe to a collection of blogs with topics ranging from science education, to Google Earth, and Rick Steve’s travel. All of these subscriptions come to my Bloglines page (click on the link to see what I read) and are organized into folders. I should have just clicked “Mark All Read” (kind of like a do-over) and moved on, but I didn’t. Fortunately for you I found a bunch of gems in my Google Earth folder – so many I had to dust of my page. Here are a few of my favorites from this morning’s reading.


  1. Jane Austin’s Life and Work – Any regular reader knows how much I love Google Lit Trips. Jane Austin’s Life and Work is a similar concept, but rather than being devoted to one particular literary work, this file is dedicated to one author – Jane Austin. What a great idea for other language arts or history projects on one particular person! If you’d be interested in creating a similar project with your students, let me know and I will come help!
  2. Armageddon Pills – I have to admit the title of this link on the Google Earth Blog is what initially caught my eye. Armageddon Pills is a travel documentary created by a family to follow their year-long trip around the world (who is this family and how can I be one of their children?). Its an excellent example of using Google Earth to document a personal event or project with great text and pictures.
  3. Constellations in Google Sky – There have been tons of updates to Google Sky, so many its a little overwhelming to digest them all. Google Sky is the second half of Google Earth that allows you to see the sky (outer space) almost as well as you an see the ground. To activate Sky in Google Earth look for Sky under View or use the small Saturn-looking icon on the tool bar. One of the more recent features for Google Sky is hat you can create your own files (just like you can in Google Earth). An example of one of these files is this Constellation Boundaries file. Hmm…perhaps my kids will be using Google Sky for their Solar System projects this year…death to PowerPoint! :-)
  4. Google Sky – Not the One in Google Earth – As if this Sky/Earth thing wasn’t already a little confusing for people not regularly using Google Earth, Google has launched Google Sky online. This isn’t the Google Sky found in Google Earth, its a website similar to Google Maps. What I like about this website is that it doesn’t require a download of Google Earth (in case you can’t do that on your school computer) and its very easy to search. If you’ve ever used Google Maps you can use Google Sky online. It also provides many of the same features as the version in Google Earth (Infrared, Microwave, and Historical views are very cool). The one downside is that you can’t create custom maps and KML/KMZ files using it…yet. Watch this YouTube video for more information.
  5. London Photo Project – If we hadn’t just purchased a new house and the value of the dollar wasn’t so low, I’d be packing my backs right now for another spring break trip to London. After last April’s adventure this magnificent city has a very special place in my heart and the Underground is one of my favorite parts. The London Photo Project is a Google Maps creation where the author is walking the Underground routes (above ground) while photographing the neighborhood. Here is a map of all of the places he has been so far. Its another interesting use of Google Earth/Google Maps for a personal project and an great idea for documenting a field trip. I’m starting to think I might have the beginnings of a project for all of my independent study kids.

Photo: Its Future is in our Hands by aussiegall on Flickr

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