Your Name and Title:  Thomas Petra, Teacher

School or Organization Name:  Real World Math

Co-Presenter Name(s):  none

Area of the World from Which You Will Present:  Guam / Western Pacific

Language in Which You Will Present:  English

Target Audience(s):  Teachers / All subject areas

Short Session Description (one line):  Connect students to global issues with interactive lessons in Google Earth.

Full Session Description (as long as you would like):  

With Google Earth students can examine real world problems in activities designed for any subject area.  Google Earth is a terrific tool for this because it allows students to have an interactive experience with a region unlike typical maps.  Lesson content can be added to Google Earth with placemarks containing text and video.  You can also add image overlays, measure distances, and play designed tours.  This presentation will demonstrate how you can investigate a global dilemma, the need for potable water, with a math activity in Google Earth.

More than a billion people on the planet are faced with an inadequate supply of water.  For many, this means they must travel miles every day to reach their water source.  This task of hauling water typically falls upon women and children.  In the Water Problems activity from RealWorldMath.org, the students are given several paths to water and asked to analyze the changes in elevation. This is accomplished using the elevation profile in Google Earth.  This relatively new feature allows one to examine the elevation of a path on the Earth’s surface in a pop-up graphic.

Two countries are highlighted in the lesson: Burkina Faso and Nepal.  For each location, students are presented with a path from a village to a water source.  The students inspect the location and then collect data of the path using the elevation profile graph.  The problems then develop into that of an analytic nature.  Would you rather haul water over a long distance or across a steep terrain?  What would the best path to water be?  Are there solutions to this problem?  How far do you have to walk to get a drink?

The elevation profile provides data that can be examined and analyzed in a mathematical context but the overall goal of activities like this should be to raise students’ awareness of the problems others face.  Thematic units will have a greater influence on children if they are presented in all subject areas.  Google Earth provides a foundation for issues such as this, while enabling cross-curricular exploration.

Websites / URLs Associated with Your Session:

RealWorldMath.org - http://realworldmath.org
Water Problems - http://realworldmath.org/Real_World_Math/Water_Problems.html

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