Wednesday, February 18, 2009

“If my ship sails from sight, it doesn't mean my journey ends, it simply means the river bends.” John Enoch Powell

Sometimes this job has its perks. To teach computers and their programs I must try them so I can speak with some knowledge about how they work. I opened the new Google Earth, like a kid on Christmas, to try it out and got decidedly lost. I had written a long time ago of this program and how it is a boon to those of a geographical mind but the new version is incredible and far surpasses what came before. One of the major complaints of the old one was the generic blue nothing that represented all of our oceans and lakes. With this new version they have made it just as fun to scour the oceans as had been to go through cities. This is just the beginning of this newly done program. Today I have been flying around Mars looking at all the landing sites and reading up on landers that worked and some that didn’t. Finally the dizzying constellations of the sky was intense. Think of every bit of the sky that we know of mapped and clickable. It was like having an observatory right at my fingertips. All of the map choices would be a help to almost any teacher no matter the subject. The obvious would be just to look at the maps but everywhere you go there are layers to put over your view. The moment you click a layer choice it will shows tons of small icons all over the land and sea. A click on any of them will reward you with videos, information from all sorts of official sources, quizzes, and much more. I took a virtual tour through the marinas trench from a swimming perspective and not just satellite views. The history teacher can benefit as well. There are historic layers like ancient Rome to go through. I really like the slider bar that shows me satellite images from different dates. They have images from around 1949 till now. One last thing that really made me happy was the amount of other organizations that are involved, Gigapan photos which are 3-d like high resolution photos which allow a lot of zooming into or a group like Seafood Watch that I pay a lot of attention to when I purchase seafood. If you have never used this application or had forgotten about it then it is time to return. It truly is a show stopping piece of software. Get your kids on this and have them record their own tours with narration. I love this idea of kids floating through maps and information and not even aware they are learning something. Give this a try.

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