Google Earth for Mapping Math

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Our grade 5’s have just finished using Google Earth to solve a math problem designed to build large number sense.

The students were challenged to find a route across Canada, starting in Calgary, that would take them to each of the capital cities. The trip could go in any order after leaving Calgary, but the students needed to complete their trip using at least 20,000 km and not going over 25,000 km.

In order to complete the trip, the students first needed to know the names and locations of all 14 capital cities, including territories and the capital of Canada, and how to add digits with decimals. Interestingly, many student used print altases to gain remind themselves of the names and locations of the cities. (It was also a great review of the capital cities of Canada – also part of the grade 5 curriculum!)
A Google Earth demonstration was given before the challenge. The class was shown how to fly between locations using addresses as well as the names of locations.
Other tools that shown included: how to measure between two locations using the “line” and “path” function, how to move within the screen, how to zoom in and out of locations and how to mark locations that they had visited.
The class first explored these tools by locating their homes, the Calgary Science School and the Calgary International Airport. Once all the locations had been found, they were asked to find the distance between their home and the school, the school and the airport and the distance around the school yard.

Armed with these basic measurement skills in Google Earth, the students were let loose to solve the problem:
[vimeo w=600&h=338]
Here’s one of the student’s final calculations (you can see the three attempts made):
As with all our projects – we welcome feedback, comments, and suggestions in the comment box below.