It was a couple of weeks ago that this whole idea started. I was reading ShannoninOttawa‘s post about justifying the educational value of field trips in February. I shared this blog entry with her. It was about using a Google application called "My Tracks" to plot your day on the ski hills. Surely, in addition to all of the other educational reasons for a skiing field trip, the ability to map your path down the hills would have some value in the classroom.
So, as with most things that I blog about, I figured I’d better put my money where my mouth is. I downloaded the app and did some playing around with it. It was indeed cool – an accurate as you would expect. When I would remember, I’d try it on small little jaunts and it worked nicely. You just run the app and tell it to start recording your tracks and, when you’re done, you stop it and you’ve got your map….and more.
I hadn’t done anything terribly involved but decided to give it a bigger run last night. I dropped my wife off at the gym and decided that the new pup and I would go for a walk and map the route. It’s more significant with a German Shepherd that he gets some significant leg time. And, we’re off. The result was a tour along the waterfront of Amherstburg.
Because it’s a Google application, it makes sense that the route is plotted on a Google product like Google Maps.
Or, how about with the Google Earth overlay?
Now, all of this is just data, visualized. In addition to uploading to a map, the nuts and bolts of the walk get piped into a Google Spreadsheet.
Combining the two reveals some interesting facts about walking around the ‘burg. Elevation really isn’t a factor in Essex County. You have to look hard to find a hill of consequence. It makes for some pretty easy walking! If you look carefully at the route, it’s not a straight line. Couple that with the "Average Speed" vs. "Average Moving Speed" gives an indication that a dog walk isn’t continuous. There are little jaunts off the path to a tree or fire hydrant or the Beagle that was coming the other way.
I was really pleased with the accuracy and the ease of using this application. You’ve got to love an app that just works when you press the start button. There definitely are all kinds of applications for this. I can’t wait until the snow leaves and the bike comes out and the paths that we’ll explore then.
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