This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
Using a Virtual Tool to Better
Understand the Real World
by Jill Bible and Tina Ornduff
T
heir eyes were wide and the only explore under the oceans without even get-
noises in the room were exclamations ting wet.
of enthusiasm. “Whoa!” “Oh!” “Wow!” As educators at the California Academy
Small groups of fourth-grade students of Sciences and google respectively, we
huddled around laptops. They weren’t will use this article as a platform to share
watching a movie or playing video games; a few of the ways in which we have used
they were exploring the world with google google earth as a teaching tool. Two of
earth. the lessons we will describe are California-
They took turns
These students were participating specific, but they give a sense of the kinds
using the mouse to
in a special program at the California of topics you can use this free and easily
Academy of Sciences—a natural history downloadable resource to teach. The third
zoom, and then they
museum, planetarium, aquarium, and rain- lesson covers green building concepts and
went all the way
forest, encompassed within a new green is appropriate for any classroom all over
underwater.
building in San Francisco’s golden gate the globe. In addition to providing these
Park. In February 2009, google launched classroom-specific resources, we have also
the newest version of google earth at the listed Web sites where you can learn to
Academy and the festivities included test- use this technology in a myriad of ways in
ing the product with students. your classroom.
Although it is a virtual tool, google
earth makes a variety of subjects come to
life for students of all ages. It is a satellite
Ocean science tour
imagery-based mapping product that puts
the whole world on a computer. It enables
To coincide with the launch of the new
you to “fly” from space to street level,
google earth, educators from google and
exploring locations around the world. The
the Academy collaborated on the creation
latest version includes exciting additions,
of an education tool focused on ocean sci-
such as historical imagery and ocean floor
ence. We designed a google earth tour
and surface data. Now, users can inves-
that relates many of the Academy’s ocean
Visiting students work with a
tigate the terrestrial environment, and
Google educator to explore the
exhibits to real locations on the planet.
oceans with Google Earth.
It enables museum visitors to fly around
the planet, exploring the places they have
learned about at the museum. For example,
museum visitors can discover the Acad-
emy’s colorful Philippine coral reef tank
and then use google earth to fly to the
Philippines and investigate the real world
locations of these reefs. Our ocean science
tour connects eleven Academy exhibits
with eleven real-world locations.
We first tested the tour with a class of
local fourth-grade students. During their
visit to the museum, the students had two
separate experiences: a physical tour of the
museum’s ocean exhibits and a virtual tour
of the real-world locations of the exhibits.
Inside the museum, students met African
penguins, discovered seahorses from New
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