App Description: You can navigate across the entire Earth while zooming in and out to explore the diverse geography (both natural and manmade.) If you create a Google account, you can add coordinates to a “my maps” file. This will allow you to easily locate certain features.
How we use it: Typically, facilitators print out maps in order to enhance an exhibit experience where maps can give a broader picture, but Google Earth gives a much richer scale and sense of place. It also allows for more flexibility for the visitor to control the map and understand how the large and small picture fit together.
Example Demonstration: Plastics in the Ocean
At OMSI we have a collection of plastics from the Pacific Ocean. Some samples were collected from the beaches of Oregon and Washington, where as others were collected from the middle of the Pacific Ocean in what’s commonly called the “Garbage Patch.” The samples were donated by Sea Education Association, and information on their research trip can be found at http://www.sea.edu/plastics/index.htm. In our activity, visitors hold and analyze the different plastic samples and try to guess which samples came from which locations. They refer to the ipad and move about on Google Earth exploring the locations that we saved into the “my maps” file. Visitors enjoy navigating the app and seeing the plots where the plastics were collected from. One of the most valuable take-away is that that the pieces of plastic that are found in the ocean are very small and cover a huge area. They break into little pieces and look much like sand; in contrast to the samples collected on the coast that have pieces of plastic that are still recognizable such as lighters, forks and straws. There is a common misconception that the plastic floating in the middle of the ocean has formed a raft, or an island. This activity helps to show what and where the actual “Garbage Patch” really is by combining mobile technologies with scientific artifacts.