A Googled Science

I used Google Earth to plan an activity on watersheds and the Pacific Coast.

Google Earth is a free software program that can be used to interactively engage with maps created by Google. To learn more, take a look at an overview of the capabilities of Google Earth. You will need to download the program to your computer.

I started with the ‘Dead Zones’ layer to see where the different dead zones were located along the west coast of the U.S. (dead zones are locations where marine life cannot survive because of low oxygen). I then clicked on some of the zones and read the correlating descriptions on what the causes were. After reading the causes in the description I then ‘explored’ the area to find physical evidence of such causes. With my screencast I wanted to demonstrate how to go about doing the process while giving a starting point for students. I think this would be a great beginning to an inquiry-based lesson because there are numerous contaminations to investigate and more places to explore!

Key Question: What causes dead zones in large bodies of water?


  • Watershed
  • Dead zone
  • Contamination
  • Hypoxia
  • Eutrophication

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand different ways humans impact local watersheds and larger bodies of water
  • Identify sources of water contamination on map (provide evidence!)
  • Compare and contrast human impacts on water quality between different locations

Further Activities:

  • Investigate different contaminations
  • Do similar activity with different locations
  • Look into positive human impacts on watersheds
  • Expand learned concepts to marine biology (how does this effect sea life?)
Placemark LayerBorers & labels on all Tool Purpose
1. Seattle, WA Dead zonesBorders & Labels Place marks Dead zones- see water areas without marine lifeBorders & Labels- give context of place being observedPlace marks- show a site of contamination
2.  Rogue River, OR RoadsDead zonesBorders & Labels  Polygon Roads- show another possible contaminationPolygon- show a farm in the area (contamination)
3.  Los Angeles, CA PhotosDead zonesBorders & Labels Place marks Photos- see pictures of the boat harbor, how they load the ships, what type of ships they load

Notes: I really wanted to use the Google Earth functions in a meaningful way and not just throw them. I also wanted the lesson to be academic. I’m rather happy with the final outcome and I was excited to see the potential for inquiry based learning with Google Earth and also the opportunity for students to truly get a multimodal learning experience.

I shared my project using Camtasia because the Google Tour option did not show all of the layers I wanted to use. I also think putting the video on YouTube makes it much easier to share than making people download the Google Earth file.

Other Helpful Resources:

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