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Caledonia, and came face to face with
coral reef fish from the Philippines. Then,
they joined Academy and google educa-
tors in our lab to travel to Africa, New
Caledonia, and the Philippines, becom-
ing some of the first people to explore the
ocean depths from the comfort of their
desk chairs.
Before flying to any of these locations,
students had to answer a quiz question.
The dual-purposes of the quiz questions,
which are embedded within the tour, are
to assess what the students learn during
their museum visits and to add important
science content to the tour.
For example, we asked students,
Visiting students work
“Which of these ocean ecosystems has
water and track fish. I want to know more
with a Google educator to
the most species: Philippine coral reefs;
about how to help sea horses and coral reefs
explore the oceans.
Caribbean coral reefs; the California
survive.” Are these the words of a young
coast; or the great Barrier reef?” After
conservation biologist in the making?
some discussion, the students answered
that Philippine coral reefs have the highest
species diversity. They clicked on the but-
Permeating the Academy’s
ton that corresponded to their answer on
the google earth tour. They were correct,
educational programs
which meant they got to fly to the Philip-
After using google earth to teach fourth
pines—to the exact location where Acad-
graders about ocean ecosystems, we
emy scientists conduct research. If they
realized how powerful and inspirational
had guessed incorrectly, the tour would
a teaching tool it can be. We therefore
have directed them to try again.
infused many of the Academy’s educa-
Upon arriving in the Philippines, stu-
tional programs with this tool. We now
dents were greeted with explanatory text
use google earth on the museum floor for
and a video to bring the location to life.
visitors, in workshops for teachers, and in
They took turns using the mouse to zoom
programs for students. We use it to teach
in and out, in and out, and then they went
a plethora of subjects including geogra-
all the way underwater. Again, the sounds
phy, oceanography, biology, geology, and
of excitement echoed in our little lab.
sustainable design. Below, we outline
“Whoa!” “Oh!” “Wow!”
two specific ways the Academy is using
Upon returning to the classroom, their
google earth to teach science.
teacher assigned homework in which
students reflected on their experiences at
the museum. They described what they
learned, what they liked, and what they
Geology virtual tour
wanted to know more about. One student
wrote, “I learned that colorful fishes live
When classes visit the Academy on field
in the Phillipiens [sic]. I liked how google
trips, some of them participate in lab pro-
earth can go underwater. I want to know
grams. One of our labs focuses on geol-
more about deep sea life.” For this student,
ogy; it incorporates looking at real rocks
seeing fish in the aquarium and exploring
and journeying with google earth to the
the oceans with google earth inspired a
locations where the rocks were collected.
curiosity about deep-sea creatures. Another
Most teachers cannot take their students
student wrote, “I learned that coral reefs
on extensive geology field trips and yet
protect land from storms and floods. I liked
their students are responsible for under-
how on google earth you can go under-
standing local geology. In California,
© synergy learning • 800-769-6199 • January/February 2010 Connect • Page 2
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