GOOGLE EARTH ACTIVITIES FOR MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDY OF PLATE BOUNDARIES, VOLCANOES, AND EARTHQUAKES
Google Earth, a free download and often already loaded in school computer labs, provides seemingly limitless opportunities to connect young students to the face of their planet and to geology. An exercise comprising a placemarks (.kmz) file and accompanying activities sheet was developed for 6th-grade students, to take advantage of the following capabilities:
- The “snapshot view” command that saves a starting view of a feature, such as the students’ school from a selected elevation, or a volcano from an oblique angle.
- The software’s continuous panning across the globe (from school to volcano, for example) when one double-clicks a placemark symbol.
- The elevation display that allows measuring, for example, water depths on a traverse across the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.
- The ruler feature that allows distances, for example, from volcanoes to trench, to be measured.
- The photo icons clustered around features such as volcanoes that students click on to see close-up images.
- The ability to add local map overlays, such as screen captures from Alan Jones’ Seismic Eruption program that reveal color-coded depths of earthquake foci across a subduction zone.
- The ability to navigate underwater, giving views from within features such as the Marianas Trench.
- The ability to embed web links and images in placemarks, linking, for example, to video of a particular volcano’s eruption.
- The ability to share .kmz files, so students can take the exercise home with them or develop their own placemarks as a project.