History in Google Earth

This past week, just in time for Earth Day, Google revealed something interesting in Google Earth.

It’s the option to view the earth in a time lapse format for the past 37 years. My, things have changed.

When you land on the page, there are five highlighted, high profile topics to be played. And, they’re worth it.

It can be used further in the classroom. Certainly, the topics highlighted are starting points for great classroom discussions.

But, what around the neighbourhood?

Since this sits in Google Earth, it’s a snap to move around and zero in on your community to see what growth has happened there. Depending upon the location, you’ll enjoy high resolution imagery.

To be honest, I knew that there was a great deal of growth in our community. But, it’s very humbling to see the spread before my very eyes.

Keys to the Kremlin

No, it’s not an election campaign.  It’s another game of Carmen Sandiego playable on top of Google Earth.

Like the previous games, it’s written and played like the original game from years gone by … just in or on Google Earth.


In a Candy Crush world, it’s wonderful to see a throwback to the screen resolution and fonts that we grew with in personal computers.

The game remains the same – follow the villain, oh so VILE,  around the world using the hints given by people that you run into.  They’re pretty cryptic but will get you thinking.  (I asked all the people I ran into just in case I jumped to the wrong conclusion.)

What I especially like was the integration with Google Earth.  You’ll be dropped into places that you might find yourself but the developers have done wonderful job of placing you at just the right angle to fully appreciate what you’re looking at.

Give it a play at the link above and marvel at how far we’ve come with graphics and how far more sophisticated technology enables games these days.

Just give honour to those early developers that started it all.


Who doesn’t enjoy fiddling about with Google Maps?  It’s just so much fun to explore.  Should you ever get bored with that, click on the Google Earth image in the bottom left corner of the screen.

We all know what happens – your flat maps turns into imagery of the earth and that opens up a new level of exploration.  Who hasn’t explored their favourite wish list destinations.  I enjoy taking a bird’s eye look at Formula 1 race tracks for example.  Or, perhaps even more recognizable, the Eiffel Tower.

I can spend hours playing around with this.  And, then of course, you can zoom in and zoom out just like you’re there.

But what happens when you zoom out?

Way out!

You’ll get imagery like you’ve never seen before.  When you go way, way out.

As I write this post, it’s 7:30ish in the evening in the Eastern Time Zone.  Look what I’m exploring.

How cool is that?

But now, let’s take the earth for a spin.  The astronomy is a blast.

Let’s head over to Europe.  Sufficiently zoomed out, here’s my view.

I love it when I can discover new uses for tools that I’ve used for a long time.  There is the thrill of new learning.

Of course, the classroom becomes much richer immediately.  How can you use this in your own class?

Building a Tour

One of my reads this morning landed me, with interest, at a new Google experiment.  In this case, it’s called Tour Builder.  It was released for Remembrance Day and there are some nice tours already in place to explore.

I thought that I would explore it a bit and see what I could do.

You may recall a blog post here from a few years ago “My Childhood Community“.  In the post, I took you for a tour of where I grew up highlighting some of the things that I remembered from my youth.  It was a fairly long post and there were a number of screen captures from Google Streetview to show what I was remembering as I took you around town.

I thought, after playing around with Tour Builder, that this would be an interesting way to display the tour.

Off I went.  The results appear below – I had moderate success.  Not complete success, I will admit.  There was at least one location that was misnamed and some of the original locations didn’t quite display properly.  I tried editing and re-editing but wasn’t able to claim 100% success.  However, the site is still an “experiment” so it’s bound to get better.  I think it’s a significant enough resource that you need to tuck it away, play with it, and watch it as it matures.

Creation of the tour is something that’s very Google in look and touch.  In many ways, you’ll feel like you’re editing a Google Presention.

The organization on the left feels like a slide deck.  Only this time, instead of adding a slide, you’re adding a location.  Once the location is added (search or just find it), you can edit the content.

To “enhance the story”, I went back to the original post and used the imagery that I had previously captured and to “tell the story”, it was just a matter of going back to the original blog post for content.  This seemed to work very well, except that Clinton Public School was actually identified as Holmesville Public School.  A quick edit gets past that!

The right pane lets you navigate within Google Earth to a particular location.  Now, Clinton is not in the high resolution area of Google Earth so I tried to use Streetview to zoom in at the various locations at street level.  I had some good results and some not so good.  You’ll see if you actually play the tour.

I was surprised that I couldn’t embed the tour at this point.  However, I can point you to the tour.  It’s located here.

The potential for the Tour Builder is huge!  There are all kinds of ideas for use in the classroom from community to history tours.  Of course, you’ll want to assign research activities to do along with the tour.  Keep an eye on this one; it has huge potential.



Another one of my enjoyments is Geography.  I’ve always been a sucker for a new atlas or watching a meterologist do her/his thing during the news.  I love looking through Google Earth and each time that I do, I recall geography learning from secondary school.  I get a kick watching the Geography Channel where a lot of this comes back to mind and there’s room for new learning.

National Geography also has a very popular quiz which is also available on the web!

It is a fun little memory jogger.  Enter the 10 question quiz as either an Apprentice or an Expert and get to work.  The clock and your memory and quick recall are put to the test.

Results are tabulated and you’re challenged to compete “with the world”.  The world has nothing to be worried about with me but it’s a great deal of fun.  It’s also amazing to think of the information that somehow I do know and can recall.

It’s not the sort of activity that you’re going to leverage into a full blown lesson but certainly it’s a great icebreaker and an opportunity to reinforce the importance of knowing geography terms.  Give it a shot and see how well you do!

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