Creating Projects in Google Earth

Thank you for attending the workshop. While we didn’t have time to turn you into an expert, I hope you left with some good ideas of how you can create your own layers in Google Earth.Google_Earth

This page includes links to all the activities we used during the session along with many more to help you to continue your learning after the session.

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please feel free to write me.


Since this class assumes you have a basic understanding of how to use Google Earth, we won’t be covering that here. If you need a refresher, take a look at the resources linked from this page.

If you want the files we used during the workshop, please download this file.

A Small Sampling of What’s in the Google Earth Layers

In the Geographic Web sectionoceantour.jpg

  • Panoramio – a collection of images posted to Google’s travel photo sharing site.
  • Wikipedia – adds markers with information drawn for articles about the location from this online encyclopedia.

In the Ocean Layer

  • Explore the Ocean – a collection of markers with images and video about the ocean and it’s creatures. Put a check mark in the box next to the listing and then double-click on the name to see the introductory video. The actual tour begins with a marker for the Hawksbill Turtle on the nearby island of Isla Pinta.

In the Gallery Layer

  • Volcanos – adds markers identifying every known volcano on earth along with information about it’s history and current status.
  • Earthquakes – an historical record of earthquakes all over the world including magnitude and links to more information if available.

A Few Layers Created By Others

Google Lit Trips – A concept created by a high school teacher to illustrate the locations in books his student were reading. The site now includes contributions from other teachers at all grade levels.

Geography Awareness Week – An annual spotlight on geography education sponsored by the National Geographic Society and other organizations. Their web site includes several Earth tours including the Glimpse tour we looked at.

3D Buildings Tours – Tours that visit collections of buildings and other structures in the 3D Buildings layer of Google Earth. The Cathedrals Tour we took can be downloaded from here.

3D Models in the Ocean Layer – This site is not so much about layers but does have links to 3D models of sunken ships and other structures in and on the oceans of Google Earth. One part of Google’s 3D Warehouse most files can be downloaded and opened in SketchUp.

You can find many more layers in the Google Earth Gallery. Get there by clicking the Add Content button addcontent.jpg at the top of the Places section in the left column.

Creating Layers and Tours of Your Own

Markers are the fundamental building blocks of layers in Google Earth. The short video below explain the basics of creating them.

If your school blocks YouTube, or if you prefer written directions, check out these simple instructions.

As you’ve seen from the examples in the Earth layers, it’s possible to make balloons with embedded graphics, audio, and video. This video will give you the basics.

Here’s a short text-based introduction to using Google’s templates and HTML for formating your markers.

And two other tutorials from Google for Embedding YouTube Videos Into Placemarks (also works for TeacherTube, SchoolTube and other similar video sharing sites) and Creating an Immersive User Experience.

Way Too Many Resources

Keeping Track of Changes

Google updates both Maps and Earth frequently, adding new layers, refreshing the photography, adding new resources for teachers. Here are some good sites to keep up with all the changes.

Google for Educators: Geo Education section – This is Google’s site for educators who want to make use of their Maps, Earth, and Sky tools, along with their SketchUp software.

Google Lat Long Blog – A blog of news and notes written by the Google Earth and Maps team.

Google Earth Blog – An independent blog spotlighting new features and applications of Google mapping technologies.

Google Maps Mania – An unofficial Google Maps blog tracking the websites, mashups and tools being influenced by Google Maps.

Google Earth Community – This is a very busy collection of bulletin boards where thousands of Earth users post questions, answers, suggestions, and share their projects. Check the Education forums for posts from teachers and students.

Examples for using Google Maps/Earth in the Classroom

Google Sky, Mars, and Moon – A short video introduction to the astronomy tools in Google Earth.

David Rumsey’s Historical Maps – More than 120 historical map overlays in Google Earth or you can also download the kmz file. The maps can also be seen as overlays to Google Maps in a mashup.

Google Earth User Guide for Geography Teachers – From the Royal Geographical Society

Classroom Idea: Google Earth Where are we today?

A very few examples found in the Google Earth Community

GigaPan – This site features panoramic pictures from locations all over the world. Most have kml/kmz files that can be used in earth to pinpoint the location and see the images.

Google Earth Lessons – lessons using Google Earth and other mapping tools created by and for teachers

geoGreeting – I have no idea how they do it but type in a message and the software finds close up images for each letter in the phrase

Gombe chimanzee Blog – blog entries from researchers at the Jane Goodall Institute accompanied by layers for earth showing where in the world they are working

World Heritage Properties – interactive map and earth layers with pointers and information for all 851 sites

Ancient Monuments – earth layers for hundreds of archaeological sites all over the world

Spectacular satellite images of the world – dozens of kmz files that pinpoint exactly what the title says.

Advanced Topics

For complete creative control over your markers, layers and tours, you’ll need to learn a little about KML, the scripting language behind Google Earth.

KML Developers – This is your starting point for learning how to write and edit KML files for Google’s mapping applications. You’ll also find lots of examples of what other people are doing with the technology.

KML Tutorial – An easy to follow introduction to the KML language.

Saving markers and tours is fairly straightforward if all your media is already on the web. It gets slightly more complicated if you want to include your own media. This tutorial will explain the basics (although the videos no longer work).

You can give your user more control over their tour by adding navigation buttons in each marker balloon. Here’s a video to explain how to do that.