• G. E. Flight Simulator—This is as close to a real flight simulator as you’ll see in a web browser. It adds a few features not in the standard G. E. simulator, including a moving map, multiple aircraft, and multiplayer with chat.
     
  • Ships—If airplanes are too high-speed for you, maybe a boating simulation is a better match. Pilot river barges, a cruise ship, a catamaran, or even a Zeppelin.
     
  • Helicopters—This comes closer to a full-fledged game, where you control a helicopter and take part in various missions.
     
  • Monster Milktruck—This simple application allows you to drive a milk truck with monster wheels anywhere in the world. Pretty fun, huh?
     
  • Stadiums Sample—Take a tour of well-known sports facilities. 

For any of these examples to work, you’ll need to download and install the Google Earth Plug-in, available here.

So how does this fit my school? Clearly Google Earth is an impressive program, but it’s not designed as a curriculum. It certainly won’t replace traditional media for geography, science, or history, but it can provide added benefits in all these areas. Google Earth is especially suited to help technically minded students interact with various subjects. Here are just a few project ideas to get you started:

Science

  • Look over weather patterns and make your own predictions based on cloud and radar images to the west of your town.
  • Investigate a wilderness web cam for several days and log the animals you see.
  • Look into the volcano, earthquake, and tsunami layers for information about these geologic events. 

Geography

  • Use Google Earth to more closely investigate areas you study, read about, or visit on mission trips. Look for photos, panoramic images, and videos of your favorite places.
  • Build a tour of a country or region you’re studying. Use the Audio tool to describe each area as you zoom into it.
  • Investigate mountain ranges, islands, and ocean trenches.

History

  • Use Google Earth to discover shipwrecks. Do more Internet and library research to discover the story behind the wrecks.
  • See how far back image data goes for your town. Create a poster or paper describing how your area has changed. (You can print out the results of G. E. searches.)
  • Create a tour that describes a historical trek: the Israelites in the desert, Sherman’s march to the sea, or Napoleon’s misadventure in Russia.

Art/Architecture

  • Model your house or some other building, and submit it to Google Earth.
  • Locate famous sculptures and statues throughout the world.
  • Use SketchUp to build a 3D model of anything you can imagine.

Let me know if you come up with anything else. If you have trouble finding any of the links in this document, please visit my website: www.aharrisbooks.net.

There is so much fun to be had with this app. Don’t tell your kids they’re learning stuff.

Copyright 2012, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the March 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade magazine for homeschool families. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.