Self-guided virtual field trips in Google Street View

 Google Maps, Student work  Comments Off on Self-guided virtual field trips in Google Street View
Feb 152013

I’m currently seeing some excellent work by Year 11 students who used Google Street View to identify and comment on different features of the flood prevention scheme at Boscastle. With almost ubiquitous coverage of the UK, there’s lots of opportunities to set students off on similar virtual voyages of discovery.

The original task was set on my GCSE Posterous. Here’s a really excellent example of a finished piece of work by Rowan…

Some ideas for using SketchUp in the geography classroom

 Google Earth, ICT, Teaching resources  Comments Off on Some ideas for using SketchUp in the geography classroom
Jun 292012

As I mentioned in the previous post, I played a little with SketchUp when it first appeared. Having learned how efficient the process of simple geo-modelling is, with the help of  Beryl Reid and Allyson McDuffie, I thought about how I might use the application with students, possibly in conjunction with Design Technology or ICT colleagues.

The first step would be to teach the basics of Sketch Up with a view to getting students to create a 3D model of the school. Maybe getting them to model their own house is a good place to start. It worked for me!

Rewarding though this activity may be for some students, I’d want to be sure that geographical thinking remains integral to the learning. With that in mind I came up with a couple of ideas:

Environmental improvements: 

Using Sketch Up components students could populate an existing 3D model of the school with ideas for environmental improvements, for example, new trees, litter bins and furniture. This would be a great introduction activity. (Actually the 3D model is not a pre-requisite now that the UK is entirely covered in high resolution imagery.)

Plotting spatial data as polygons / SketchUp components:

Once a 3D model has been created, there are opportunities for studying spatial phenomena like micro-climates, weathering processes, ecology etc. These results can be displayed directly in Google Earth using proportional polygons to represent data, or by plotting data inside place marks using Rich Chart Live or GE Graph (Windows only) I believe that Tom Biebrach of Pencoed School was first to exploit this idea. Of course, it would be possible to use SketchUp components to generate complex pictograms drawn precisely to scale.

Building redesign:
Students could redesign existing buildings, maybe to visualise the impact of solar panels, alternative lighting or different exterior renderings on buildings.
Here’s our Sports Hall with added renewable energy features…

The impact of a new building on the surroundings can also be evaluated using the shadow tools.

I’ve mentioned before that my Visualizing A Safer City lesson using Google Earth as a GIS to identify the site for a new hospital could be extended by modelling the proposed building in SketchUp. This activity would lend itself to an homework extension activity for 3D enthusiasts.

Finally, it would be great to make a 3D model of the school that can be shared on the public website. Extra information could be added to the building place markers, and linked to department web sites, video clips etc.

An excellent series of video tutorials for geo-modelling in SketchUp can be found at this Google site.

Google Teachers Institute

 Google Earth, INSET  Comments Off on Google Teachers Institute
Jun 232012

I was lucky enough to be invited to the Google Teachers Institute held in London over 20/21 June at Google’s new London office. Unfortunately I could only attend on the second day which was broadly devoted to SketchUp. I really wanted to learn more about this application having briefly dabbled a few years ago.

My own presentation (no PPT) focussed on the value of Google Earth as a decision making tool, and as a great vehicle for student created content, such as this example from a current project where the student has created proportional bars to represent the depth of sand on each side of groynes at Dawlish Warren.

The files I used are here.

Highlights of the day…
There were super presentations from the enthusiastic Google Outreach team as well as other teachers. One outcome of the day is that I’m now confident at geo-modelling in SketchUp. Here’s my classroom block at school:

Beryl Reid who took us through the techniques for geo-modelling also mentioned AR-media. I was familiar with this augmented reality application, but hadn’t realised that there was a dedicated iPad app which makes downloading and displaying AR models a cinch…

Le Mont-Saint-Michel augments my desktop…

It was great to hear Richard Allaway talking about some of his Google Earth work. I was very much taken with the elegant simplicity of his Imperial Airways to Cape Town activity, which I’d like to use myself.

Julie Brown from the National Geographic Education Program took us on a spirited trot through the latest educational materials on the National Geographic website and highlighted some wonderful resources that I’m looking forward to exploring further.

Many thanks to the Google Outreach team for organizing the event. Come back soon!