A trip in an airplane for every middle school student would be an excellent way for children to learn about landforms. Looking out the window of an airplane and making observations of the changing landscape is an experience I wish all my students could have had. A trip traveling west over the United States is particularly fascinating. But unfortunately, very few of my students ever traveled anywhere in an airplane.
When learning about deltas, canyons, erosion, deposition, mountains and valleys we make models using stream tables. Despite the exciting hands on nature of these activities, students still have trouble translating these models to real life situations. A view from an airplane would help students visualize the landforms we are teaching about. One answer to the problem of students never experiencing airplane flight is to use Google Earth to display satellite images of the Grand Canyon, the Mississippi Delta, the Great Lakes and the meandering Ohio River. Science standards ask us to interpret aerial photographs and to compare maps and photographs taken from the air. They ask us to relate symbolic representations to features and characteristics of landforms. What better way than to use Google Earth to introduce landforms to students?
Photo by Janine Dupree: www.janinedupree.com