Two Great Uses of Google Maps in Science

Ah, spring. My final two units in grade 6 and 7 are "Inside Earth" and "Watersheds" respectively which allows Google Maps to be a handy tool when looking at data and information from around the world. Just like working with Google docs, maps can be created and worked on collaboratively. Here are two uses that I've found very helpful.

Inserting a Layer of Spreadsheet on Google Maps
As we were finishing up our unit of chemistry, one of our labs was to investigate the factors that influence water's ability to boil. We signed up for the "International Boiling Point Project" which is a collaborative effort amongst schools around the world, much like Google's Connected Classrooms Workshop. Participating classrooms collected data on the following:
  • Elevation
  • Average Boiling Temperature
  • Amount of Water
  • Heating Device
  • Room Temperature
 After we did, we input our data on a simple spreadsheet and added other classes information onto it as well. The cool thing I learned at Google Teacher Academy is that you import spreadsheet data as a "layer" on Google maps as shown below to aid in the analysis. Here is a tutorial to get you started.


Collaboratively Mapping Out Geographic Features
My seventh grade classes are learning about watersheds. After some front loading of water distribution on earth, and surface water movement, our lesson asked students to do the following:
  • Research an area that you know well and locate a watershed within it. 
  • Draw this area within Google maps. (Discuss with country partners so you don't overlap!)
  • Indicate how mountain ranges, hills, or ridges (acting as divides) funnel water to larger rivers within your watershed.
  • Name 1-2 tributaries which flow into the larger river. 
  • Extension: Insert an image from your watershed.
Of course within International Schools, the wide variety of student backgrounds gave a greater breadth of background knowledge to areas they knew from their native countries. But, the product (which was formative in nature) ended up being a good foundation for our study of water. Furthermore, my co-teacher and I are planning on finishing the unit with water collection around Ho Chi Minh City, wherein students will collect water from near their homes, map out their locations and provide analysis on chemical indicators. For this, we can simply "add a layer" of spreadsheet data (like the first example I showed) so maps can have layers of information showing subsequent lessons, all building on top of each other. 


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