Science 6.1 – Key Concepts of the Weather Unit and Installing and Exploring Google Earth

Facilitators should check to see if participants have Google Earth version 4.0 installed on their computers.

Session Overview
In this session, participants will learn the key science concepts necessary for sixth grade weather unit. Facilitators will refer to the new NYC Scope and Sequence for the sixth grade. Facilitators will show participants how to install Google Earth. The majority of the session will focus on understanding the task panes in Google Earth and on the use of the basic tools of Google Earth. We will record any findings in MS Word Document entitled "Lesson Ideas". Participants will have time to explore Google Earth.

Focusing Questions
What are the key science concepts needed by sixth grade students to understand the weather unit?
What is Google Earth and how do you think it will be useful in enhancing teaching a Weather Unit?
How does one install and use the basic features of Google Earth?

The following materials are used in this session:
- Laptops
- Projector
- Google Earth Version 4.0

The following resources are available on the iTeach/iLearn web site:

Science Scope and Sequence for Grades 6, 7 and 8

INSTRUCTION (Typically lasts about 20% of session.)

Framing the Session
“Over the course of this session we will understand the fundamental science concepts and skills needed for students to understand the weather unit. We will also learn how to download Google Earth and use its basic tools.”

“We need a basic understanding of what students need to know based on the new Weather Unit Standards. Let's take a few minutes to review these standards before we go further into our session." Open the resource entitled Science Scope and Science Scope and Sequence for Grades 6, 7 and 8and discuss.

"Now that we know what is expected from our students, watch me as I show you how to download Google Earth. The process is very similar for both the PC and the MAC platforms. If you already have Google Earth downloaded, make sure it is the latest version, 4.0.

(Facilitators will need to proceed either with downloading with the complete application or having participants who have Google Earth download any needed upgrades. Users who already have Google Earth 4.0 can explore some of the features as your colleagues download and install Google Earth 4.0 .)

"First, open your internet browser (MAC should use Firefox). Type in www.earth.google.com in the url box. Now click on Downloads and click on the appropriate operating system that you have. Now you just need to click on Download Google Earth. Btw, both the link for the list of Google applications and the link for downloading Google Earth can be found under Resources. Google Earth should start to download automatically. If this does not happen, then click where it says "click here to start". Then a window appears asking you to either open or save the application. Save the application either under Applications for MAC users and under Program files for PC users.

"For MAC users who already have Google Earth, check to see if you have Google Earth version 4.0. If you don’t, download the new version from http://earth.google.com/download-earth.html . Drag the newest version to your applications folder to make sure that the old version is replaced with version 4.0. For PC users who already have Google Earth, check your desktop for the icon or check under All Programs. Open up the Google Earth application.

"Let's go over the task panes and the tools. Let me explain briefly the tools located at the top task bar above the main view. The computer icon is for those who want to print information that you have retrieved from Google Earth. The next icon, which looks like an envelope, is for you to Email, for example, your placemarks. The ruler icon enables you to measure distances between two points of interest. The thumbtack icon is for you to add a placemark for a place of interest. The adjustable scale from “-“ to “+” allows you to zoom in and out of the globe. You can also place the cursor on the view and drag it, for example, to the right. At the top of GE, you’ll find 6 different menus. Under View, you can change your view to show the longitude and latitude. The Overview Map shows the larger picture. You can also click on Compass for the directions. For all of these views, you can unclick them whenever you don’t want to use them. Under Help, see the User Guide or the Tutorials to help you understand further applications about Google Earth.

"The top left pane has 3 tabs. The first pane is Fly To. The second task pane is My Places. It adds all the places of interest to this list. The third bottom task pane is Layers. In case you want to see the globe with longitude and latitude, go to View and click on Grid.

"Type in where you want to go under Fly To. I’m going to type in “Empire State Building, New York”. Okay, see what happens to the globe after I’ve hit Enter. The globe rotates and zooms into your place of interest. I want Google Earth to remember Empire State building location. How do I do this? I place the cursor on the point of interest, in this case “Empire State Building” and then I click on the thumbtack icon. Now you will see a new window opened. Notice that this window specifies the longitude and the latitude of the “Empire State Building”. It’s asking you how you want to describe this location. I’m going to write “Empire State Building, New York”. Then click OK. This will automatically appear in the middle task pane under Places.

"Now, we are going to show you how to measure the distance between two places. Locate the Statue of Liberty and place a thumbtack or place mark over it. Zoom out (remind where zoom out button is located) so that both locations are in sight. Then, click on the Tools Menu and check the Ruler. See what happens? A small box-like icon appears. Place it over The Empire State Building and then drag it to the Statue of Liberty. It will draw a line and show you the distance between the two locations in different units."

For any of you who would like more extensive information about the use of Google Earth, please use the link http://earth.google.com/userguide/v4/index.html under Resources.

Guided Practice

Follow the directions that we just went over and complete the following tasks:

1. Fly to and mark two places of interest
2. Zoom out and ensure that both location are in sight.
3. Click on the ruler icon and click on "line" to measure the distance between your two places of interest.

WORK TIME (Typically lasts about 60–70% of session.)

Getting Started
“Take the next 30 minutes to locate places, to use the placemarks and to find the distances between two places.
Note all your ideas for lesson plans on weather and other related science instruction in your Lesson Ideas Word document. At the end of the session we will come back together and share.”

Participant Activity
Participants will...

Step 1 – Locate their school and add a placemark.
Step 2 - Locate Empire State Building and add a placemark.
Step 3 – Learn how to measure the distance between their school and the Empire State Buidling.
Step 4 - Participants can choose any two places of interest and practice using the Placemark tool and the Ruler icon to find the distance between those two places.
Step 5 - Spend the remaining time exploring the aspects and tools of Google Earth.
Step 6 - Note ideas for lesson plans in the Lesson Ideas Document.

Facilitator Conferring
Circulate around the room and confer with participants. Make sure that all participants have GE properly installed. Check to see if participants encounter any technical problems that need to be addressed. Try to guide participants to use the tools effectively. Suggest that they try more than one location, if they finish early. Take note of particularly good ideas for lesson plans that can be presented during the Share.

SHARE (Typically lasts about 10–20% of session.)


Ask selected participants to share different thoughts on how they would use the basic tools of Google Earth in their science/weather unit in their classes.
Lead a discussion about how these ideas tie into and bridge back to the focusing questions.


Author: Rajeshwari C. Menon and Nalini Shyam
Email: RMeno@schools.nyc.gov
School/Employer: IS 195, New York City Department of Education
Title: 6th, 7th , 8th Grade Science Teacher
Email: NShyam@schools.nyc.gov
School/Employer: MS 217, New York City Department of Education
Title: 7th Grade Science Teacher