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Building an education game with the Google Earth application programming interface to enhance geographic literacy

By
Tsan-Kuang Lee
Tsan-Kuang Lee
Education Technology Services, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802, USA
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Laura Guertin
Laura Guertin
Earth Science, Penn State Brandywine, Media, Pennsylvania 19063, USA
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Published:
October 01, 2012

As part of a course objective to improve the geographic literacy of students in higher education, Penn State's Amazing Race, a modified version of Google Earth's application programming interface (API) demo game, Geo Whiz, engages students in learning physical geography within a Google Earth browser plug-in. Students navigate around the Earth to identify on the globe the locations of various countries, major cities, United States national parks, and locations with features of geological significance. To better achieve the learning goal, several game elements were incorporated into the game interface: a timer to encourage concentration, a ranking board with scores of all players to motivate students to improve and to assess learning results, and a replay function for instructors to review students' performance and specific difficulties. Google Earth API is used to control the Earth movements and map display, while custom JavaScript code adds the function of a timer, recording/playback, and score keeping. Google Earth's browser plug-in does not provide a layer that contains political boundaries without state and country labels, so one additional feature added to The Amazing Race is Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)–published boundary data without the names of world countries and U.S. states converted to a zipped Keyhole Markup Language (KMZ) file. The framework of this game can be easily exported for application to other disciplines for various student levels and ages.

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GSA Special Papers

Google Earth and Virtual Visualizations in Geoscience Education and Research

Steven J. Whitmeyer
Steven J. Whitmeyer
Department of Geology & Environmental Science, James Madison University, Memorial Hall, MSC 6903, Harrisonburg, Virginia 22807, USA
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John E. Bailey
John E. Bailey
Scenarios Network for Alaska & Arctic Planning, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska 99709, USA
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Declan G. De Paor
Declan G. De Paor
Department of Physics, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia 23529, USA
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Tina Ornduff
Tina Ornduff
Google Inc., 1600 Amphitheatre Pkwy, Mountain View, California 94043, USA
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Geological Society of America
Volume
492
ISBN print:
9780813724928
Publication date:
October 01, 2012

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