Over the last couple of days, I've been reminded of the wonders of Google Earth. I periodically forget about this magnificent tool; I suppose its a bit like a favourite food which you gorge yourself on, overdo, then get a craving for! We are currently looking at the Colorado River and its management with Higher. It's my second year teaching this topic and the first, if I'm honest, was something of a plough through an army of PowerPoints. It kind of killed enthusiasm. As a 'hook', as my colleague @Davie_marsh called it, we 'took' the class to the Grand Canyon on Wednesday.
Enabling the 3D building layer, we started at the skywalk, which we were able to experience first hand through the YouTube clips. It allowed us to get a feel for the landscape - the steep relief, the lack of vegetation, the depth of the canyons, the remote location and the arid conditions. This all stemmed from a decision making exercise where one of our group had wanted to flood the Grand Canyon. Using the GE stimulus, we managed to successfully debate the rights and wrongs of this proposal, using other incorporated tools such as the ruler to give an idea of scale.
We were just about erring on the side of not flooding the area when we switched location to the Hoover Dam. This was instantly recognisable, but the knowledge of the surrounding area was understandably less well defined. We were able to establish that this location had a much narrower canyon to dam and there were audible notes of surprise at the scale of Lake Mead behind it. The students were able to draw many conclusions on their own about the location of multi purpose dams before completing a sorting exercise. In terms of a plenary/ starter, we came back to this today via a pre picked location near Yuma, Arizona and established what we could about the suitability of the location before also deciding what the streetview and 3D modelling didn't tell us about the location. This has effectively covered a 10 to 14 mark part of the exam through critical thinking rather than bludgeoning by text and took probably the same time or less to complete.
Coming back to the title, my temporary colleague, Mr Collins, who is with us for a few weeks leading up to Christmas was very taken by the possibilities offered by Google Earth. He related it to his own school experience of detachment from the area that he was studying in Geography because of a lack of familiarity. Today, he recognised the wow factor that I sometimes forget about with Google Earth. We have the power to show students anywhere in the world within the four walls of the classroom. What a marvelous gift to have.
Posted via email from Mr O'D's class posterous