Northeastern (46th Annual) and North-Central (45th Annual) Joint Meeting (20–22 March 2011)

Paper No. 6
Presentation Time: 3:15 PM


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

Google Earth is increasingly being utilized by classroom educators as a tool for students to access the world’s geographic information. Google Earth’s effectiveness at enhancing student engagement and learning has led teachers to explore its additional features beyond the Earth. In Google Earth’s freely downloadable software ( are the additional views for Moon in Google Earth, Mars in Google Earth, and Sky in Google Earth. Sky in Google Earth provides users the opportunity to explore the night sky, with a set of pre-existing layers encompassing everything from historical drawings of constellations or videos from Apollo 11 to astronomy misconceptions. Although Sky presents useful and relevant content, it is challenging for teachers to effectively integrate this content without well-developed questions, worksheets, or guides. We present three different uses of Sky’s content through a warm-up exercise, jigsaw activity, and scavenger hunt to spark and further expand teacher and student interest in this geospatial technological tool. For the warm-up exercise, the content in “Space FAQ” of the “Earth & Sky Podcasts” layer can be used as a Question of the Day. For a jigsaw activity, the layer “Hubblecast” found under “Current Sky Events” provides fifteen short videos ranging in topic from dark matter and merging galaxies to cosmic fossils and black holes for teachers to divide among student groups. Finally, the outlines of famous constellations and the information about specific stars from the “Backyard Astronomy” layer serve as an excellent foundation for a scavenger hunt. These exercises are particularly well suited for astronomy portions of an Earth system science unit or in a general science course for middle school students, yet the exercises easily can be scaled up or down for different grade levels. To find these Sky and other multidisciplinary K-12 activities, visit The Earth & Space QUEST blog: