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Google Earth Lab for Oceanography

Beth Dushman, Del Mar College
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This activity is designed to give students an introduction to Google Earth, and to demonstrate some of its capabilities as an educational tool. This lab asks students to examine a number of features and to answer questions based on their observations and their knowledge from lecture and lab class.



This activity was originally designed to be used in a Physical Geology laboratory class. The version presented here has been modified to focus more on Oceanography, and is intended to be used in an introductory, non-majors Oceanography class.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

This lab works well towards the end of the semester, when students have already been introduced to a range of geological and oceanography concepts. In particular, this lab assumes that students have a basic understanding of plate tectonics and related volcanic activity, longshore transport, and hypoxic zones.

How the activity is situated in the course

This activity will be used as a lab exercise towards the end of the semester.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

This lab covers a range of content, including recognition of indicators of longshore transport, relationships between volcanic activity and plate tectonics, as well as earthquakes and plate tectonics, and basic biological relationships in oceans.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Students will make hypotheses based on observations, analyze distribution data, and synthesize information from different course units to answer questions.

Other skills goals for this activity

Students will become comfortable using and manipulating Google Earth.

Description and Teaching Materials

Students will need access to computers with Google Earth installed. Students will need to access the .kmz file of placemarks, as well as the file of chlorophyll data. I have my students download the files from a course webpage, but they could be electronically distributed in a number of ways.

Materials presented here:
Activity sheet with questions to be answered.

File (.kmz) of placemarks.

Link to webpage with chlorophyll data: http://neo.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/Search.html?group=12
Student Handout for Google Earth lab (Microsoft Word 61kB Jun9 13)
File with placemarks for Google Earth activity (KMZ File 2kB Jun9 13)

Teaching Notes and Tips


Students' responses will be graded based on accuracy of their answers.

References and Resources

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