After attending NSBA's Technology Leadership Network Executive Briefing, I was inspired to try an Excel spreadsheet/graphing activity in my class. David Warlick discussed the changing face of information literacy, and he demonstrated a compelling activity during his talk. Essentially, he found seismic activity data from the United States Geological Survey web site for a specific date, imported this data into Excel, and created a scatter chart. The resulting image clearly defined earthquake activity along fault lines, and a cluster of earthquakes particularly stood out. David led us in a discussion of what we were viewing, and we soon realized that we were looking at earthquakes that caused the tragic tsunamis of 2004. I think David also had a map overlay for this, but I am cannot recall some details accurately and I can't find details of this activity on his web site. The rough directions I gave to my students can be found here. Students plotted the longitude and latitude of earthquakes for a particular day of their own choosing. They also had to select enter the longitude and latitude of the most significant earthquake that day in Google Earth to find out where it took place. They added a placemark to indicate the spot, and they also saved an image of this to insert into their Excel workbook.
During the course of my exploration of Google Earth, I visited a couple of sites that are probably well known to most tech savvy people. Upon a recommendation from another ADE, I found lots of helpful information at the Google Earth Community web site. Here you can download KML files to use with Google Earth. Under the National Geographic Content heading, I found some animal ones that were very cool and I also liked one entitled Planet Earth DV - Habitats - Caves listed under Education. It's an interesting use of images, text, and links to take participants on a digital field trip. Unfortunately, I couldn't access the video content that is linked to in this overlay as it's only available to people in the UK.
Also, while trying to figure out where I was trying to go with this project, I spent a lot of time on the USGS web site. Their earthquake center is particularly amazing. I love how they use RSS; you can actually subscribe to a feed of recent earthquake activity. And best of all, they have produced Google Earth KML files so you can see points indicating recent earthquake activity right in Google Earth. These files also have links to further information. For RSS and KML files, follow this link. I also noticed earthquake summary posters that look fascinating. There is so much to explore in the USGS web site. I'm not even a scientist and I found it so intriguing that I just had to blog about it!