Waco Gem and Mineral Club, Waco, Tx

20.5 Maps on the Web


20.5: Maps on the Web

The World Wide Web has become a rich trove of increasingly sophisticated maps, from MapQuest programs that give driving directions and roadmaps and estimated drive times between destinations, to Google Earth, and more.

In particular, take your juniors to a computer terminal to explore the possibilities afforded by Google Earth. This amazing tool combines the power of Google Search with satellite imagery, maps, terrain, and 3D buildings. Among the range of possibilities suggested on the web site: "fly" to one of your junior member‘s homes by typing in the address and pressing 'search' to zoom right in. Get driving directions to a park or natural history museum. Tilt and rotate the view on a Google Earth map to see terrain and buildings in 3D. We‘ve truly come a long, long way from the roadmaps—impossible to refold—at the corner gas station!

Another really neat website sponsored by the U.S. Geological Survey is EarthNow!. It consists of real-time, bird‘s-eye images of the Earth‘s surface being beamed down from Landsat satellites. You actually feel like you‘re in a spaceship, with the surface of the Earth scrolling away beneath you. To orient you, city and town names appear in blue text.

You can pursue this activity as a group exercise, or you can encourage kids to explore for maps of their own. Whichever way you go, have them each prepare a brief oral or written report about what they found. Their report should include: 1) the web address of the site and its title, if it has one; 2) a brief description of what‘s to be found on the site; and 3) a conclusion about why they would recommend the site to other club members.

Note: Kids can use this activity to satisfy requirements toward earning the Rocking on the Computer badge simultaneously (see Activities 15.1, 15.2, 15.5), as well as the Communication badge (Activities 7.1 or 7.2).