Northeastern Section (45th Annual) and Southeastern Section (59th Annual) Joint Meeting (13-16 March 2010)

Paper No. 8
Presentation Time: 4:15 PM


GUERTIN, Laura A. and NEVILLE, Sara, Earth Science, Penn State Brandywine, 25 Yearsley Mill Road, Media, PA 19063,

A Google Earth QUEST (Questioning and Understanding Earth Science Themes) is a Google Earth file, constructed from an Earth science non-fiction book released through the popular press, supplemented with a vocabulary list, location names, and critical thinking questions. A QUEST can be a valuable tool to introduce students to current scientific topics and to realize the global scientific and societal connections. Google Earth is free software that utilizes satellite imagery and aerial photography to create a searchable, global map. Users of Google Earth are able to create their own Google Earth file by establishing the location of pins (termed placemarks) with latitude and longitude coordinates and creating content within the placemark pop-up windows with HTML coding. The windows can contain text, links to audio files and web pages, and embedded images and videos.

To create a QUEST, we begin with a recently-published non-fiction book relating to the Earth sciences. We realize that middle school and high school students typically will not choose to pick up books such as these to read on their own, and classroom teachers do not have the funds to purchase these as texts for their students. We create a tour in Google Earth that follows the narration in the book, visiting geographic locations in the order they are presented. The content of the book is supplemented in the Google Earth pop-up windows. As these books have terminology and location names new to students, we have a list of scientific vocabulary terms, professional organization names, and names of countries and cities teachers can review with students before engaging with the QUEST. In addition, we provide a list of quotes from the book appropriate for classroom discussion and a list of critical-thinking questions based on Bloom’s taxonomic scale.

Google Earth provides the tool to have current science publications in the hands of students. Teachers can either use the tours as a demonstration in class, have the students at individual computers for exploration, or have students engage with the QUESTs outside of the classroom on their own time. The combination of geography, environment, technology, and society allows students in a QUEST to explore the interconnectedness of the systems on our planet. Our Google Earth QUESTs are available at