Using Google Earth to Learn About Animals

National Geographic aerial photos of  animals and people in Africa can be found in Google Earth by clicking the National Geographic icons, and there is a kmz file you can download that has the groups of animals labeled. The video above shows how it looks, but you can find them directly in Google Earth. Show the video to your class to get the idea, and then turn them loose with Google Earth in search of more animals.

To get started, have students open Google Earth and type these coordinates into the Fly to box:

10°54′13.66″ N 19°56′06.15″ E

When they zoom in, they’ll see a herd of elephants.

Google Earth elephant photo

As students continue to explore, with the help of the file or on their own, have them mark the areas where they find animals on classroom maps or on blank map outlines. Gather the class’s attention occasionally to discuss where there seem to be more animals and where there seem to be fewer images of animals.

Encourage students to research the areas they identify — one of the great things about our plugged-in lives is that you can readily check information, and our students should develop the habit of using this capability for more than Facebook. They’ll be able to determine not only that there are fewer animals in cities and deserts, but also that there are wildlife preserves and other human decisions that affect where concentrations of animals are to be found.

Also help students notice that different kinds of animals show different patterns of behavior, grouping in different ways. Have students add drawings to their maps, either directly on blank map outlines or by drawing on paper and posting their drawings around the classroom map, using yarn to connect their drawings to the areas where they found the populations they’ve drawn.

Google Earth global awareness layers

Use Google Earth’s Global Awareness layers (just open up Layers and expand the Global Awareness option in your Google Earth panel) to find more animals in other parts of the world.

Online resources:

Books if you want to know more:

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