Two fascinating programs, one for PC and one for Macintosh, are ready to get your family thinking geography. You'll find that both are easy to use and will do wonders in interesting your children in learning about our earth.
It's like having a world globe right on your computer-only this globe lets you zoom into specific locations and learn about them. All you have to do is point to a location or type in an address, and the software will take you to a satellite view from 10,000 kilometers to 1 kilometer above the location. It will, in addition, give you information about the place you select. You can "fly" to your neighborhood and look down on it from space or zip off to a remote, exotic, or historic location.
Besides using it just for fun, Google Earth is a great resource for getting directions when you need them, helping with vacation planning, and learning more about places that are in the news. Whether you need to find a local restaurant or drive cross-country, Google Earth is not only ready with directions, but can give you an animated preview of the path you need to follow. It's also a unique way to help your children learn more about places that are in the news.
And it can help your kids with their homework. Let's suppose, for example, your daughter has an assignment to do a report on the Grand Canyon. Using Google Earth, she can take her own virtual tour of this national landmark. It will be as if she's in a helicopter with Google Earth as her pilot. Think of how much she'll learn as she "flies" through a 3D representation of the canyon.
All you have to do to get Google Earth on your computer is to go to http://www.earth.google.com and download the free software. You'll need a PC computer, preferably with Windows XP, for the program is not currently available for Macintosh users. You'll also need a broadband Internet connection; although the program resides on your computer, it goes online to get the information it needs for your searches.
There is a higher level version of the software (Google Earth Plus) available for personal use for a $20 annual fee, which includes features such as drawing tools, GPS device data import (read only), spreadsheet data import, higher quality images for printing, and website and email support. Those interested in commercial uses of this software should look for information on Google Earth Pro, $400 annual fee with optional add-ons such as movie-making and premium printing modules for $200 each.
3DWeather Globe & Atlas
One look at the amazing full screen view of the earth in 3D Weather Globe & Atlas, and you'll want to order this program. Stunning is the only word that can describe it, for with this program you are treated to an astronaut's view of our dynamic planet. Whether you are observing the earth as you work with the program or have set up the program to view the earth as your screen saver, you'll be sure to pause a moment as you consider its beauty.
3D Weather Globe & Atlas is not only a beautiful program, it is incredibly useful especially in these times of volatile weather. Using the program, you can check out cloud cover anywhere in the world, watch a three-day animation of cloud movement, and get the current weather and 7-day forecast. There are 40,000 locations worldwide where you can pinpoint location, download weather, and calculate distances between the locations. You'll find NASA satellite photos of the entire planet and be able to zoom in to see the earth's surface with them. The program includes country, state, and province boundaries and location names. All you have to do is to move your cursor over to what you want and the name and boundaries will appear. If you need exact latitude and longitude coordinates, or perhaps time zones, you'll find them easily with this program.
This program provides exciting educational experiences for your children. Just watching the earth on your computer screen can lead them to greater understanding of the earth's rotation, the positions of the moon and sun during rotation, night and day in different parts of the world at different times, weather patterns, and so much more. Seeing the lights from Japan shining out into space while it's daytime on the other side of the earth is a vision your children will not forget.
Besides just giving kids a sense of time, space, location and relative geography, it is also a great tool to have for school reports and projects. Kids can move from a global view to a map view and locate just about any place on earth. They'll be able to track the voyages of explorers such as Amelia Earhart, da Gama, Magellan, and Columbus and download routes taken by Vespucci, Luis de Torres, and Marco Polo. They can plot their own routes around the world and calculate the distances they travel. They'll be able to see what countries are in the same time zones, try their luck at forecasting weather, and check out the earth's surface in different parts of the world. While they are doing all this, they'll be having fun, and their parents will eagerly be awaiting their turn with this unique program.
3D Weather Globe & Atlas costs $39.95, can be ordered by going to the MacKiev website. The program is currently only available for Macintosh computers running Mac OS X 10.3 or higher. A CD-ROM drive is required for installation of the program and a broadband Internet connection is needed for the online weather features.
Google Earth Plus
Google Earth Pro
Free download for Google Earth
Google Earth Plus $20 annual fee
Google Earth Pro $400 (additional modules $200 each)
Windows only (Windows XP recommended)
3D Weather Globe & Atlas
Macintosh OSX 10.3 or later