Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Using Google Maps

Google Maps can be used to show the Plate Tectonic Features of the planet Earth.

I discovered this quite by accident once when Google Maps had just added the Satellite Pictures to their site.

Go try it yourself: Go to the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Click on Satellite. Do you see the Mid-Atlantic Ridge System? What Google's done here is spectacular! You can show your kids the bottom of the ocean!

You can show them the Mid-Atlantic Ridge!

You can show them tons of others things, too:
  • The Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean where the Pacific Plate is subducting under the Eurasian Plate.
  • The Juan de Fuca plate as it subducts under the North American Plate.
  • The Andes Mountains where the Nazca Plate is subducting under the South American Plate.
  • Northern India where the Indo-Australian Plate is Colliding with the Eurasian Plate, thus forming the Himalayan Mountains.
  • Iceland where two plates are moving apart, splitting Iceland in half. NOTE: When in Iceland, click on Terrain, which shows where the glaciers "should" be. Then click back on "Satellite" to show how much is actually left. Astounding.
  • Go to Hawaii. Show them how most of the Hawaiian Islands are undersea volcanoes formed by the Pacific Plate moving over a Hot Spot.

Click on "More" on the upper-right hand area and see Photos or Wiki entries.

Now, if you have a projection system hooked up to a Smartboard or big screen, you have just an ideal setup! When I've done this, my students were absolutely glued to the screen! They loved it.

At the very end, go back to your schoolyard. Start at the largest map of the planet. Double click on North America. Double click on your state. Keep double-clicking down-down-down to your school. If you are very lucky, your car will be in the parking lot! (Mine still is! The satellite photos are a couple years old!)

Only thing is: be prepared for them to ask to see their own homes!

NOTE: The YouTube video at the beginning of this blog entry is not from Google Maps, of course, but shows the ocean as it appears on Google Maps. This video would also be a great teacher tool! Project this on your Smartboard/Big Screen! Let it play to the end and then "surf/browse" along the bottom for all sorts of great videos, including one called, "Approaching a Trench."

CONSIDER THIS: Add Google Maps to your Plate Tectonics unit!

FUN LINK: Click here for Google Maps.
Click here for Google Maps Guide for Teachers.


Dan said...

As I was working on setting up a google map tour for my class, i found this

Anonymous said...

Marcia, thank you so much for sharing all of your great ideas and lessons! Due to a last-minute schedule change I found myself teaching earth science, which I haven't taught since 1988, with no warning, no text, and no extra time to prepare. I stumbled on your site and it has been so helpful. Thank you!!!