Google Earth Lessons Blog

An Educational Resource for Teachers

Neat GE Alternative Developing!

Filed under: General — GELessons Blog Admin at 10:47 am on Saturday, May 10, 2008

Geo Geeks most likely are already aware of a great new tool but regular teachers might not know about NASA’s latest initiative, World Wind Java.

The new Java based World Wind allows for some really neat functions with more being developed every day by commercial and non-commercial enterprises alike. Since it is Java computer language based it will run on Apple, Windows or Linux computers and allows for innovative stuff like having a Google Earth-esque window in a web page among others.

Some caveats for teachers though:

1. It requires the downloading and installation of the Java applet, so in restrictive network environments you might not have enough administrative rights on your computer to use it. Ask your Tech people to see if there is a solution or if they can unblock you.

2. It needs the latest graphics drivers, meaning the computers need to be pretty up to date. I ran it on my fussy old laptop just fine, where Google Earth freaks out, so you are probably OK, but test it out first.

3. The updating of imagery seemed slower for me than Google Earth, so depending on your network, you might have more student downtime waiting for the imagery to appear.

Given the level of creativity of developers out there, this is definitely a remarkable new tool to keep an eye on that offers functionalities Google Earth doesn’t, and again, it is free! 


New stuff…

Filed under: General — GELessons Blog Admin at 2:03 am on Monday, May 5, 2008

Finally had some ‘Dave time’ today to get a couple ideas down that had been rattling around in my noggin for a couple weeks now. They are detailed on the home page so I won’t go into great depth here. I swear, I need to spend about a month and redo this whole site so that it makes more sense. I know some folks subscribe to the RSS feed from this WordPress blog, while others stumble on the home page. It would make a lot more sense to have the blog as the home page, but the WordPress editor and DreamWeaver don’t like each other as much as they could.

Anyway, not to be confused with Dr. Seuss,

Thing 1. A fun little idea for Flat Stanley in Google Earth. Flat Stanley is a boy who gets flattened one night while sleeping and has inspired some neat inter-school communication since in the story Stanley’s father mails Flat Stanley to see his cousins in California. The Flat Stanley Project has leveraged the web to get kids writing and learning about different parts of the world. It seemed like a natural fit to me that Flat Stanley could also travel the world in Google Earth, so I made a little custom icon (copy into your custom icon address field to join the fun) for folks to use to pinpoint where they have sent Flat Stanley, or where they want to learn and write about. Here is Flat Stanley visiting the Queen of England at Buckingham Palace, replete with the 3D building.

Flat Stanley meets the 3D Queen

Thing 2. I have been fascinated with WMS (Web Map Service) for a while and struggled to find a way to make it useful for teachers since it has the capability to display a broad range of information quickly and easily through the use of image Overlays in Google Earth. To add an image overlay that incorporates WMS technology just visit the new, somewhat thin, Nifty Trick page about Insta-Topos that teaches you how to get instant topographic map overlays for anywhere in the U.S. with less than two minutes of development time. I wish I knew more about how WMS works, especially how Google Earth queries the servers, so that I could provide a more in-depth tutorial. But seriously, it is a click, click, click and then no matter where you look in the US, boom a topo map appears. Pretty cool.

Sample topo WMS overlay

and last but seriously not least,

Thing 3. An effort that puts me to shame. Some fellas in New York have come up with possibly the cleanest, most straightforward, most succinct overview of how regular teachers can create lessons utilizing Google Earth ever. Steve Kluge and Drew Patrick from Fox Lane HS along with Eric Ferman from Eastchester HS put together: “Designing and Creating Earth Science Lessons with Google Earth” and even made it available in PDF for our convenience.

With that single great page they have made it possible for trainers everywhere to rip out two hour Google Earth workshops without blinking.

That makes two who have really taken some basic Google Earth concepts and produced some really sweet educational web resources! Thomas J. Petra’s is the other. I’d better watch out or I’ll be out of a job (oh wait, this is a hobby) :-)

One final reminder, if you have comments, don’t bother with the comments section here since it is running an average of 300 spam entries a day (wish I knew how to kill them off!) so everything gets pitched. If you need to drop me a line, email me at I would love to hear some of what you are doing with Google Earth in your classroom!

Happy upcoming summer vacation!!!



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