I did this with my kids yesterday as part of our Geography and maths unit that was a real hit and had plenty of learning opportunities to offer.
1: The lesson involves measuring distances between two cities or locations such as Sydney and Melbourne and initially estimating that distance with your students. Record some of these up on the board and discuss which ones are realistic, unrealistic and why.
2: Next you need to introduce two terms of geographic measurement.
- "As the Crow Flies"This is the most direct path available roads, mountains and objects do not obstruct the crow therefore it can take the absolute shortest route.
- "Street Directions" This is the route obviously driven by car or whatever mode of transport you choose. Explain to students that these are the most realistic measurement for us and why?
3: Measure the street distance using the directions tab in Google Earth and it will give you a distance such as 1245 Kilometres. Following this you need to get the kids to estimate the distance it would be "as the crow flies"
4: Measure the "As the crow flies distance" using the ruler option under Google Earth Tools. Finally get your students to subtract the direct route from the Street directions and find out how much distance the crow has saved.
That is basically it, you have plenty of lesson discussion and further geography and maths questioning options that I am sure you will flesh out with your kids. Remember to check out my Ultimate guide to Google Earth for more lesson Ideas using Google Earth look forward to hearing your feedback.