Google Earth and Environmental Changes

I am teaching a lesson this week using Google Earth. The objective I’m trying to hit asks the question, “How have people in San Antonio adapted to or modified their physical environment?”

I decided to use Google Earth to focus on a couple of facts about San Antonio, Texas. We San Antonians really would like it to rain more, and we San Antonians like to dig quarries, and then build things in the hole that is left over after the quarry is spent.

SO…I pinned places in the city to Google Earth, saved a .kmz file, and then dropped the file in the school’s student_shared drive. Once Google Earth was up and running on the students’ computers, I had them click file/open, and navigate to the file to open it. This brought up all my saved places with the informative notes that I had written about each place.

The places I included are Medina Dam and Canyon Dam (both dams that really changed the physical environment around them), Six Flags and San Antonio Zoo (both built in a quarry), and Olmos Dam (a change to the physical environment that PROTECTS the city from floods rather than causing a lake like the other two dams).

We had great discussions about how these things have changed the environment, and about how to navigate around in Google Earth. As a fun highlight, I pointed out that I had pinned their school to Google Earth. I asked them to look at the place where they spend much of their time. I think this lesson went well overall.

Possible extensions?

One of the teachers at this particular school mentioned that a great way to extend this activity would be to ask each student to find a place in Google Earth where they have visited, and then write about the experience they had in this place. I might have to try that sometime.

A side note…

Just yesterday I did not know how to pin places in Google Earth. I asked a fellow ITS, and she gladly explained it to me, and I am so thankful for that. I mention this to give credit where it is due, but also to emphasize the importance of continual learning. I am always glad to learn new things.