When Google Earth was launched in 2005, a highly motivating and different perspective of the planet became available to millions of computer users. At first, educators used it to find their school and students’ houses, to explore the local community ‘from above’ and to ’fly around’ tourist attractions, geographical features and historical landmarks. In recent years, with advancing technology, Google Earth combines the power of Google Search, satellite imagery, maps, terrain and 3D buildings with multimedia and linked applications to provide teachers with an amazing array of information and resources. From Google Earth home page (http://earth.google.com/)

The new version of Google Earth has a number of exciting features, including being able to switch between Sky and Earth view. You can look at the stars, constellations, galaxies, planets and the Earth’s moon. Many photos and linked videos are now 3D objects that you can add, fly into and browse.

You can use the Search panel to find places and directions i.e. travelling from Sydney to Beijing. Teachers and students can add placemarks. For example, locate and add a place marker to show an excursion destination, the site of an historical event, or  location of a current event in the news. Some other features of Google Earth include being able to measure a distance or area size, email a view or image. You can print the current view of the Earth and show it on Google Maps. There is also a 3D Viewer to view the terrain.

To download Google Earth on to your computer, Mac or PC, visit http://earth.google.com/download-earth.html … it’s FREE!!

With Google Earth, you can place custom images and Google SketchUp 3D models over the view of the earth. Image overlays provide additional information and can be created or downloaded. For instance, download the Wilkins Ice Shelf overlay which allows a comparison to illustrate the expanse of devastation. Text and photos can be added to the overlay as well. The Image Overlay can be clicked on or off. This Antarctica overlay is available at http://bbs.keyhole.com/ubb/showflat.php/Cat/0/Number/1140191/Main/1139031/ . To find more overlays, just complete a Google search.