Google Earth Lesson Plans for Math

Google Earth for math

We love Google Earth for math lessons!

  • Shapes For young children studying basic shapes, it is very fun to go to Google earth, put in an address, fly way down close, and look for shapes. Now click on the Polygon tool in the top tool bar and outline the shapes you see. You see a square? Click on a corner, then on another corner, then on the third. You’ll see a triangle. Click on the fourth corner and it’ll become a rectangle. You can change colors — even pick “random” — and end up with a nice collection of shapes all over the landscape. It’s like a game of Hidden Pictures with basic shapes, and it’s different every time you change the address.
  • Area Get more sophisticated with older students by having them create colored shapes, and then calculate their area. Start with simple shapes, but then encourage them to move on to irregular polygons. For these, you simply click at each point at which the line outlining the shape changes direction.
  • Charts Use the “add content” function in the Places area to find information about the places you’re looking at, such as population density, world oil consumption, and more. Have students choose a data set for places they’re looking at and determine the best way to reprsent the data graphically. Then add another location and figure out the best way to represent and compare the two sets of data. A fun way to get a fairly random comparison is to put in an address — your school, the student’s home — without specifying a city. You’ll usually come up with choices in several different states or countries within your language group.
  • Measurement Click on the ruler and measure a path. After students have done a few paths, have them estimate distances for some more paths and then check them. Try going to the Directions pane and asking for directions from one location to another, which will give you a distance, and comparing that with the ruler measurement of the path.

More options:

  • has bunches of lessons with more guidance and downloadable resources.
  • Teaching with Google Earth has a simple webquest that leads students to plan a road trip and calculate things like cost of gas and time the trip will take at different speeds. This seems to have been written for a particular class several years ago, so you may or may not want students to use it directly, but it’s a classic idea and the legwork’s been done for you.
  • GELessons has a lesson on time zones using Google Earth.
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