Using Google Earth and GIS to Create a Customized Map
This activity has benefited from input from faculty educators beyond the author through a review and suggestion process.
This review took place as a part of a faculty professional development workshop where groups of faculty reviewed each others' activities and offered feedback and ideas for improvements. To learn more about the process On the Cutting Edge uses for activity review, see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.
This page first made public: May 15, 2008
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
How the activity is situated in the course
Content/concepts goals for this activity
- Students learn to use the latest version of Google Earth to obtain geographic coordinates (longitude and latitude) of any location.
- Students use GIS to create a customized map.
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
- Students learn to format data in preparation for GIS analysis
- Students use GIS as an analytical tool to measure the shortest distance between two locations
Other skills goals for this activity
- Usage of GIS software
- Using Google Earth as a GPS
Description of the activity/assignment
The exercise requires access to an internet-ready computer, with Google earth downloaded, the GIS software package (ArcGIS) installed, a word-processing application (MS Word), and a spreadsheet program (MS Excel). Students may need a primer on how to use Excel: http://www.shodor.org/scsi/handouts/excel.html
Through this activity, students can plan their dream vacation. They will use Google earth to obtain the geographic coordinates (longitude and latitude) of places of interest in any part of the world. Using GIS, students create a customized map depicting chosen sites, and approximate the distance between these locations. This activity gives students practice in interpreting maps, and an opportunity to learn about countries outside the United States. The activity can also be used to connect geography with environmental science.
Determining whether students have met the goals
Download teaching materials and tips
- Activity Description/Assignment (Microsoft Word 2.5MB May15 08)
- Supplemental handout (Microsoft Word 6.6MB May15 08)
- One example (Microsoft Word 55kB May15 08) showing the distance between two locations