THE BENEFITS OF UTILIZING GOOGLE EARTH AS AN UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH TOOL FOR NON-SCIENCE MAJORS
Non-science majors at Penn State Brandywine have the opportunity to engage in research involving the creation of a Google Earth QUEST. A QUEST (Questioning and Understanding Earth Science Themes) is where a student takes a popular non-fiction book relating to the Earth sciences and plots the content with a short narration in Google Earth. The students also develop a set of critical-thinking questions so that the QUESTs can be used by middle and high school teachers for in-class exercises. Students respond positively to engaging in research with Google Earth, as “seeing where in the world these things are occurring makes the issues more real,” and “my knowledge and comfort with geography has definitely increased from working with Google Earth.” In connecting books such as John McPhee’s The Control of Nature and Mark Lynas’s Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet, a student commented, “creating Google Earth QUESTs helps me make sure I have a better understanding of the science in the books I read.” Combining the technology with printed texts can assist students in developing their spatial and science knowledge, necessary in a global citizenship, no matter what a student’s major.