Nov 012012
 

A demonstration of how easy it is to use pre-made SketchUp models from the 3D warehouse to augment Google Earth. I’ve mentioned this idea before. The rationale is to get students thinking more creatively in decision making exercises, environmental impact assessments etc. by incorporating Google Earth imagery and other data into the learning.


An imaginary quarry redevelopment on the Isle of Portland

The activity allows some interesting “what if”? hypothesising. The Burj Dubai in Wellington, Somerset for example…

The point to be made is that it’s not necessary to have much more than a basic grasp of SketchUp, though I’ve found that some students will not be able to resist improving their skills in 3D design once they have been introduced to the software.

Scribd has done it’s usual hatchet job on the notes, but they also be downloaded here.

Creating Virtual landscapes in Google Earth and SketchUp.doc

Feb 182010
 

Developing brownfield sites is generally held to be a “good” thing (at least GCSE students are programmed to think so), however at times it’s worth considering that buildings such as power stations represent a substantial part of our industrial heritage. Hams Hall was a series of three coal-fired power stations at Lea Marston in Warwickshire, constructed between 1928 and 1968. Demolition of the last of the stations took place under cover of darkness in 1993

Hams Hall power station

photo Wikipedia transferred from Geograph. Copyright Tim Marshall

The only building that survives is the control room of Hams Hall substation. The exterior is vaguely reminiscent of a mosque, though guarded with razor wire and liberal coatings of anti-climb paint. Indeed on my first visit, late on a stormy November night, the place was less than welcoming, and I failed to get inside.

Hams Hall substation

Thanks to information from some helpful locals, I was able to return for a closer look. I knew what to expect; a circular control room with an extraordinary glass “flower” roof.

Hams Hall control room

I planned to make a 360 degree image to show the room properly. The floor is covered in glass and it’s extremely dark inside, meaning that the exposures had to be lit with a torch. Here’s the finished panorama on 360 Cities:

Hams Hall substation control room in England

I’ve published the image as a full screen, high quality panorama on a personal page as well, since 360 Cities is getting a little cluttered . Click the image below:

Hams Hall control room

Decrepit old buildings can hide all kinds of fascinating secrets. I don’t believe this building is protected in any way, although it is very well sealed up. Maybe it should be listed? Either way, it’s an important part of the local built environment, and a pretty special place. Perhaps we should get students to think more critically about the value of certain brownfield sites? The substation would make a really great local studies classroom, or some other kind of publicly-accessible building, where the unique roof and control panels could be protected from further damage.

Sep 172009
 

I’ve been having another look at AR Sights – the augmented reality application that superimposes 3D models into a real-world view. It’s now available in a Mac version, and there is a greater choice of  models. A web cam is required; this one looks good for other experiments such as time lapse as well. Once AR Sights is installed, simply browse the library of 3D buildings from a special Google Earth layer. It works very well.

Here’s the demo I made a little while ago.

The AR models include a number of religious buildings that make a great resource for RE lessons. In geography, students could design a suitable setting for a relocated iconic structure like the Petonas Towers.

Sep 102009
 

I stumbled across a preview of an interesting interface for Live Search Maps (or should that be Bing Maps?) today called Virtual Earth Street Side. The screen is split in two, with an eye level “Street View” image occupying the top half, and the map below, onto which is imposed a racing car icon. The car is moved via the keypad, and is able to track the street (at least some of the time) rather than driving over the buildings. Once the street view images are loaded into the browser, the keyboard gives a smooth and realistic driving experience; in my view somewhat better than Google’s Monster Milk Truck.

Virtual Earth Street Side

Virtual Earth Street Side

At the moment San Francisco and Seattle have been treated to this feature. I think it’s pretty slick, and I’d use it as part of my San Francisco decison making exercise – students can drive past their selected location.