Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Google Earth for Earth Science!


So, I've been thinking of doing some earth science with the kids this year. Most of you know that I have an undergraduate degree in biological sciences and that I am certified to teach biology to 7th-12th graders. What you probably don't know is that I have often thought of using my continuing education requirement (for keeping my certification) to acquire credits in earth science with the ultimate plan of getting a second certification. Imagine the crazy power a science person certified in biology AND earth science would have in the world of education. Only a physics and chemistry certification could outdo that dynamic duo and well that will not be happening! My little dream though was sort of interrupted by the reality of No Child Left Behind. I'm not entirely sure what the deal is, but I do know that teachers are expected to have degrees in their area of certification. Biology- check. No problem. Earth science? Not worth another bachelor's degree. Sorry. The world of education will have to do without my amazing double certification. Well...at least I have my masters degree to fall back on- curriculum and instruction secondary education. You never know when coming up with creative instructional ideas and writing your own curriculum will be necessary to save the day. But I am prepared!

Earlier in the year...back in August when we were doing Nim's Island, we sort of fizzled out on the energy for Nim and her island science. We will get back to it, but I had plans for following an online earth science class through CurrClick and it was canceled and with it...my desire to hunker down and finish the unit in a tidy way.

Yet, I feel the earth science fire starting to flare after doing a slow smolder for a few months now on the back burner. Then I happened upon Google Earth Lessons while perusing some of my homeschooling bookmarks. Don't laugh...I know you all have some. How often do you go back and look at those again? I knew this one was worth keeping, but never really thought seriously about using it. Until now. While reading on the website I found this...

Google Earth User Manual for Earth Science Teachers Oh my. Just look at the table of contents and you'll see what I mean. Ok...maybe you won't. The science teacher in me is definitely making plans for this. Curriculum is being written in my head. Instructional gems just effortlessly coming to the surface as I think of how we could use this in our school.

I love physical maps. I really find the ocean basins fascinating to look at. Our boys have a National Geographic map of the physical world in their room and it is very nice to look at. Below is another Google Earth image. Check out the continental shelves surrounding each continent before the ocean gets super deep. River deltas like those of the Amazon, Nile, and Mississippi are interesting from satellite images as well.


I was especially amazed to see that the USGS has released its collection of topographic maps for free downloads as pdfs. What?! How did I not get this memo??? Seriously, I can hardly wait to find our area and download away.

So, what inspires you? I was just talking this morning with a MOPS mom (at MOPS of course) who heard a talk I gave to the group at the end of the year last year on Adventure Boxes. She was so excited to share with me what she had done last summer with her kids to keep them learning over the summer. It really made a difference for her girls and she told me that it was my talk last May that inspired her to go home and do "summer homeschooling" with her kids. By all accounts everyone loved it and the kids returned to school this year more confident and excited for what might be in store for the this coming summer. That made me smile.

Perhaps something I share here will inspire you to do something new with your kids...like Google Earth! Or downloading a topographic map of your neighborhood to interpret with your children.

The time we take off at the Christmas holiday is a good time for me to take stock in how our year is going and to tweak things that need tweaking mid-year. I've got 14 hours in a car (for the ride to and from with four kids and stops along the way) not including the run around time in Maryland (as if you didn't know!) and it's a good time to reflect and Dan as a school consultant is a trapped audience!

All that is to say I'm inspired! Inspired to rethink how I will fit in some earth science over the next few months. Maybe I can find a way to hit that topic along our trip west next semester.

As always, stay tuned.

1 comment:

Tracey said...

I enjoyed reading this. It is very well written.