November 5, 2012

Google-Earthing your children’s questions

Google Earth
You’ve heard of Googling the answers to your children’s questions, but have you thought of Google-Earthing the answers to questions?

Google Earth is an amazing tool that allows you to visualize just about anywhere on Earth.  Sometimes, it can answer your children’s questions better than a verbal explanation, looking at a map or Googling information and pictures can do.

For example, your child asks ‘How far away does Aunty Jackie live? Can we go and visit her tomorrow?’ If Aunty Jackie lives around the corner, this is a simple question.  If Aunty Jackie lives in another country, not so easy!

But now, you can use Google Earth to give your child an idea of where Aunty Jackie lives.  Depending on the age of your child, they can now see, for example, that you have to go across the water to visit Aunty Jackie.  They can compare the amount of ground to cover between Fred’s house around the corner and Aunty Jackie’s house.

What about the question ‘Where do tigers live?’  You might need to Google the answer – they live in southeast Asia.  You could then find southeast Asia on a map or you could use Google Earth, which allows you to not only find southeast Asia, but find out what sort of landscapes tigers live in – is it open plains or jungle.

Google Earth can help to give children greater understanding of many other topics, for instance:
  • locate events of interest from the news. 
  • compare environments – for example, compare Antarctica to Australia.  With the Ocean feature you can also compare underwater environments.
Our Place in Space - Darwin
  • discover your place in space – find your continent, your country, your state, your city, your street and your house.
  • visit key locations from books. You can even find ready made book tours at Google Lit Trips.
  • get a greater understanding of historical events. For example, it is much easier to understand the Gallipoli landing from World War 1, if you can see the cliffs in ANZAC cove.  You can also historical imagery for some locations in Google Earth to see how places have changed over time.
  • explore the night sky and visit the Moon or Mars
  • visit famous locations in 3D.  My youngest son recently developed an interest in castles, so we visited some in Google Earth or if you have a budding artist, you can visit art museums.
  • make a map of something that interests you – dinosaur fossil locations, favourite fishing spots, the best places to get ice-cream
  • play geography games, like ‘Where am I?’ or guess the country.  Here’s a couple of examples -
My capital is Bangkok.  Which country am I?
I am looking at the Parthenon and eating baklava.  Where am I?
If you’d like to have a play with Google Earth, you can download it here (it is also available for Android and iOS).  Tutorials for using Google Earth can be found here.

Have you used Google Earth?

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