Best Google Earth Projects of 2022 – by geteach.com

Google Earth Projects ‘22

What a weird year! During the school year I spend most of my bandwidth teaching and learning with students. This often only leaves June, July, and a couple of weeks in December to maintain, clean, and update geteach.com. However, I also use this time to tinker with Google Earth. Here are my favorite projects of the year.

Please note that many of these stories work best without clouds, so you might want to click the Map Style icon and uncheck “Clouds” in the “Custom” option. Maybe toggle-off 3D buildings for some stories too.

Also, pro-Workspace EDU tip. Many EDU admins block sharing Docs, Sheets, and yes Google Earth projects from users outside the EDU organization. Simply open the shared link with your teacher’s account and make a copy. Then share the copied project with your students.


What are the different types of plate tectonic boundaries? (Link to Google Earth Story)

My favorite Google Earth Project is always the last one I created. In this case, it is a quick lesson on types of plate boundaries.

A component of most geography, and Earth science, courses include processes that create landforms. Divergent, convergent, and transform boundaries are inner-earth processes that are discussed in just about all these classrooms. NOAA has a great one pager (https://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/facts/plate-boundaries.html) discussing these boundary types.

Add a couple of layers to a Google Earth project can easily create greater engagement for a static webpage with a lot of great information. In this case, the layers added are Earth’s Plates from the U.S. Geological Survey, a flashy plate boundaries map from NOAA, the tried-and-true Seafloor Age and 10,000 years of volcanoes maps from NOAA, and lastly, 5+ magnitude earthquakes from 2016.


What are El Niño and La Niña? (Link to Google Earth Story)

The 100 degrees started early in 2022. One day, I was reading about a double, and potential triple, dip La Niña. While falling down the rabbit hole, I ran across a NOAA page titled What are El Niño and La Niña? (https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/ninonina.html). Maybe a day later the Earth project was completed with using tiled map layers of NOAA images.

Read more about the project here. (https://geteach.com/blog/2022/06/22/what-are-what-are-el-nino-and-la-nina-google-earth-project/)


Dynamic Landscapes Projects (Link to Google Earth Story)

Looking at changes through geographic and temporal scales is one of the engagement tools used when using Google Earth, or really any geo-technology, in the classroom.

For about five years now I have waited to import a csv file into an Earth Project, like in Google’s My Maps. In July, tired of waiting, I decided to import 2013 tornado data into Google’s Earth Engine and create an image file of this point data.

In addition to adding point data, I have always wanted to use historic Street View in a project. If I was going to use historic Street View in a project, I probably should use historic imagery too.

Put all these together and you create the Dynamic Landscapes Projects. These four stories (Tornado in Moore, OK; 2011 wildfires in Bastrop, TX; the 2011 Tōhoku Earthquake/Tsunami; and finally, the Notre-Dame Cathedral fire in Paris, France) look at these changing landscapes at different; the closest using historic Street View.

Sendia, Miyagi (June 2011/March 2022)

Read more about the project here. (https://geteach.com/blog/2022/07/23/new-geteach-com-google-earth-projects-dynamic-landscapes/)


Earth’s Changing Oceans (Link to Google Earth Story)

Technically created in October/November of 2021, this story illustrates the relationship between Earth’s oceans and climates. The information comes from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (https://www.epa.gov/climate-indicators/oceans).

The map layers are from various resources, mostly NOAA. The challenge with this project was, and still is, how to utilize Earth’s folder structure in a non-linear story. Hence the blue “BACK TO STORY” buttons at the bottom of some of the panels. This button gets the reader back to where they left off in the story.

A common “hack” in this in this project is in using the previous/next image in the carousel to also change the map overlay on Google Earth.  Maybe one day I will find a more creative solution, but so far, I have not found one that works equally well across computers and phones.


Continental Drift (Link to Google Earth Story)

This story was first created in 2017 as a kml file. Over a year ago the Google Earth team added tile overlays to Earth Projects. This was one of those stories that fits well with this update. The story uses a Sci-Fi channel YouTube snippet about Alfred Wegner. From there, students can explore the distribution of ancient fossils that helped Wegner, and others, theorize continental drift.

The point data for Glossopteris, Mesosaurus, Cynognathus, and Lystrosaurus fossils comes from The Paleobiology Database (https://paleobiodb.org/#/). After a failed attempt to rasterize the points and create a tiled map, I manually added the fossil point data.

Like Earth’s Changing Oceans Project, clicking through the image carousel on slide eight changes the Earth; illustrating the breakup of Pangea to today’s present Earth.


I’m Australian Too! (Link to Google Earth Story)

A Google Earth Project read along was converted from a kml to a project this year using Earth Project’s folder structure.

Several years ago, I received permission from Ms. Fox’s publisher to create this story, “as long as I don’t make any money.” That was a very easy condition to meet, considering I’ve never made any money from any of my projects. This project is a great littles story about migration and the potential for progress among places.


Click this here if you would like to explore past Google Earth Projects created for the classroom.

Have a safe and happy 2023!

geteach.com maps used in my Advanced Human Geography course

The Wizarding World (one of several map easter eggs)

Background Advanced Geography – geteach.com

Over the past decade+ years, I have attempted to create and curate maps that are easy to access, compare, and share. Deciding on what map visualizations to include in geteach.com has been a thoughtfully thoughtless process. Basically, during class either students or I will say, “if only we had a map for that.” That thoughtless progress has slowly created 200+ maps within geteach.com. Which is great for me, because I was part of the class flow that decided if a certain map is needed. In other words, it is easy for me to incorporate all 200+ maps in the courses throughout the year because the data sets originate around experiences of what I teach.

That stated, with 200+ maps, and the fact that it is not easy organizing that many visualizations, I can understand how geteach.com‘s curated library can be a bit overwhelming. Therefore, below are two tables with the maps commonly used when teaching “Population and Migration Patterns and Processes” and “Industrial and Economic Development Patterns and Processes.” The maps and concepts mostly come straight from the College Board’s Human Geography Course and Exam Description. There are a couple of extra maps, to string narratives mostly around dependency ratio, movement, and population pressures.

To display a map in geteach.com, click select map at the bottom right of each map canvas. The table will help you find where these maps are found in geteach.com’s menu structure.

Lastly, what places should students focus on? This year my colleague suggested we use the global regions and the most populous country within those regions as our focal points. We use the Population Reference Bureau to categorize our regions. Yes, there are always outliers, but this gives the students common comparisons to make at the global and global regional scales. See below

Global RegionSubregionCountry Name
AfricaEastern AfricaEthiopia
AfricaMiddle AfricaCongo, Dem. Rep.
AfricaNorthern AfricaEgypt, Arab Rep.
AfricaSouthern AfricaSouth Africa
AfricaWestern AfricaNigeria
AmericasCaribbeanHaiti
AmericasCentral AmericaMexico
AmericasNorthern AmericaUnited States
AmericasSouth AmericaBrazil
AsiaCentral AsiaUzbekistan
AsiaEast AsiaChina
AsiaSouth AsiaIndia
AsiaSoutheast AsiaIndonesia
AsiaWestern AsiaTurkey
EuropeEastern EuropeRussian Federation
EuropeNorthern EuropeUnited Kingdom
EuropeSouthern EuropeItaly
EuropeWestern EuropeGermany
OceaniaOceaniaAustralia
Population Reference Bureau Regions

Analyzing “Population and Migration Patterns and Processes” – geteach.com

Population Distribution

MapsPhysical or Human GeographyMap Set
Population DensityHuman GeographyPopulation Density
Earth at NightHuman GeographyEarth at Night – 2016

Population Distribution and Land Use

Maps Physical or Human Geography Map Set
Arable landHuman GeographyGeography-Land
CroplandHuman GeographyGeography-Land
PasturelandHuman GeographyGeography-Land
Food v. FeedHuman GeographyGeography-Land

Demographics – Population Composition

Maps Physical or Human Geography Map Set
Total fertility rateHuman GeographyDemographics
Crude birth rateHuman GeographyDemographics
Crude death rateHuman GeographyDemographics
Migration (net)Human GeographyDemographics
Growth rateHuman GeographyDemographics
Infant mortality rateHuman GeographyDemographics
Total dependency ratioHuman GeographyDemographics
Youth dependency ratioHuman GeographyDemographics
Elderly dependency ratioHuman GeographyDemographics

Gender Inequality Index

Map Physical or Human Geography Map Set
Gender Inequality Index (GII)Human GeographyGender Inequality

Global Human Modification (population pressure)

Map Physical or Human Geography Map Set
Global Human Modification Human GeographyAnthropocene

Analyzing “Industrial and Economic Development Patterns and Processes” – geteach.com

Human Development Index

Map Physical or Human Geography Map Set
2018 – HDIHuman GeographyHuman Development Index

Economic Indicators

Maps Physical or Human Geography Map Set
GDP (per capita)Human GeographyEconomy
GNI (per capita)Human GeographyEconomy
Agriculture/mining labor
(% of labor force)
Human GeographyEconomy
Industry labor
(% of labor force)
Human GeographyEconomy
Service labor
(% of labor force)
Human GeographyEconomy

Health Indicators

Maps Physical or Human Geography Map Set
Infant mortality rateHuman GeographyDemographics
Life expectancyHuman GeographyDemographics
Physicians densityHuman GeographySociety

Social Indicators

Maps Physical or Human Geography Map Set
Electricity – fossil fuels
(% of Capacity)
Human GeographyEnergy
Electricity – renewable resources
(% of Capacity)
** According to source,
burning timber is renewable **
Human GeographyEnergy
Literacy rate – totalHuman GeographySociety
Gender Inequality Index (GII)Human GeographyGender Inequality

Sorry about the video music. I have an odd appreciation for YouTube’s stock music.

New geteach.com Google Earth Projects: Dynamic Landscapes

TL;DR: Google Earth Projects: Dynamic Landscapes (Link to Projects)

Figure: Dynamic Landscapes Main Menu

One of my favorite concepts to teach and think about is this idea of scale and how our landscapes constantly change. Google Geo has a couple of tools that help capture both these concepts. First, Google has organized years of remote sensing images from several vendors. Many students and teachers have used Google Earth Engine’s Timelapse and/or have used Google Earth Pro’s (Desktop) “Historic Imagery.” With these tools, viewers can see a changing landscape from above. For example, the images below, from Google Earth Pro’s Historic Imagery, visualize Warsaw Poland in 1935 and 1945. In addition, Google Maps, not Earth, has historic Street View going back, in some places, for 15 years.

The goal of these Google Earth projects is to tell stories using these concepts of spatial and temporal scales. The four stories chosen to tell using these scales include the 2013 EF5 Tornado in Moore, OK; 2011 wildfires in Bastrop, TX; the 2011 Tōhoku Earthquake/Tsunami; and finally, the Notre-Dame Cathedral fire in Paris, France.

Figure: Damage Path EF5 Tornado Moore, Ok 2013

While these catastrophes are life altering to those living thorough these events, I find it, as a teacher, easier to create empathy in students when these events can shift between small-scale/small detail to large scale large detail. In other words, at a small-scale students can see the extent of how much was damaged, but might miss the personal stories of loss, heroism, and perseverance. Shifting the perspective to the large-scale/large detail of Street View gives a glimpse of these personal narratives. Hopefully facilitating the growth of an empathetic citizen willing to help their world.

Figure: Historic Street View – TX Highway 21 (Left Image: 2011 | Right Image: 2013)

On the technology side, there is a little of everything Google Geo has to offer. The stories themselves are curated Wikipedia and US government websites using data from NOAA, FEMA, Google Earth Imagery, and Google’s Street View. The visual format of the stories’ panels were created using custom HTML with help from Google’s Material Design Lite and a little JS to show/hide layers and style the media. The Google Earth Layers are all tiled (x,y,z) raster images either created using MapTiler or, in some cases, Google Earth Engine. The historic Street View panels are done using Google Maps API. And lastly Google Earth Studio was used to create the spinning Earth found in the Dynamic Landscapes’ Main Menu project.

Figure: Earth Engine 2013 Tornado Data – Source NWS

In other words, these stories are an experimental convergence of hacks. And while I think they look fantastic; they will always be amateur. However, these stories could look so much more polished, and scalable, with a couple of Google Earth for Web features. First, historical imagery and historical Street View that could be included in Google Projects. Second, toggle switch widgets for showing/hiding layers. Third, and one that I have been unable to hack yet, would be the ability to “set a scene” by enabling and disabling Map Styles like visible features (roads, places, poi), 3d imagery and clouds:) The ability to add ground overlays would also be useful to many users. This would remove some friction that is introduced with tile overlays. Lastly, and this will probably make no sense to anyone, but the ability to assign Ids to features like placemarks (points, lines, polygons), ground overlays (tiles), folders, full screen panels, etc. While I am at it…maybe the Earth Engine team could help me out with exporting video (x,y,z) tiles from Earth Engine’s code editor. Very selfish request.

Figure: Tōhoku Tsunami Model – Source NOAA

Anyways, please let me know via Twitter or Facebook if you would like for me to create a tutorial on anything you found interesting within these stories. I truly enjoy creating and learning from these experiences.

What are El Niño and La Niña? Google Earth Project

TL;DR What are El Niño and La Niña? Google Earth Project

I love finding informational U.S. government websites that fit the curriculum. In this case, and many others, NOAA created a page that does a really good job informing viewers about El Niño and La Niña (Link). What I enjoy about these sites is the opportunity to add value by transferring them into Google Earth stories. Now students can get the information in a package that allows for a bit more exploration. Or at least students get to push more buttons.

Anyways, please take if for a spin and share away if you think it will help student. Click here to open Google Earth Project: What are El Niño and La Niña?

If you are interested, here are some additional Google Earth Stories.

PSA: Teachers…If you are wanting to share this or other Google Projects with students and your school is a Google EDU campus. You might have to first share to your Teacher Workspace EDU account and then make a copy. (Three dot icon next to the trash can icon –> “Copy Project” Then share the copy to your students. Most EDU accounts do not allow for outside domain sharing. This puts a copy within your EDU Domain.

GeTeach.com Geo 4 Good 2021

TL;DR: Here is a GitHub Repository for those who just want to see Earth’s Changing Oceans html, CSS, and JavaScript. (Link) Or make a copy of the demonstrated Google Earth Project. (Link)

It is always great to share Google Earth Project ideas at Geo for Good Summits. This year’s presentation utilized Earth Web’s new tile features along with folders. I originally wanted to create a post on how the demonstrated Google Earth Project was created, but I thought it would be better to create a simple project that uses the same basic ideas and structure.

The simple story created in this post is Austin and Las Vegas’ urban growth 2000 – 2020. This post will be a guide starting from creating and exporting map tiles using Google Earth Engine through the creation of an Earth Project using these tiles. Being completely unaware of people’s knowledge and skills, the lack of real time meaningful feedback, and the use of multiple platforms creates many challenges for this post. My hope is that the videos and code snippets help, but feel free to reach out. You can find me on Twitter @geteach.

Lastly, the typical disclaimer. I am a high school geography teacher and not a professional developer. Hopefully this tinkering adds value to whatever you are trying to create.


Table of Contents


I. Environment / Setting

  1. Google Chrome
  2. Google Cloud Storage
  3. Earth Engine – Code Editor
  4. Image Viewer – Any should work (IrfanView – Windows)
  5. VS Code
  6. All Tutorial Files used are in this GitHub Repository
  7. Patience

II. Setup Google Cloud Storage to House Map Tiles

  1. Create a bucket for the project
  2. Create paths to store Map tiles and other assets
    • Austin/2000
    • Austin/2020
    • LV/2000
    • LV/2020
Above Video: Set up Google Cloud Storage Folders

III. Create and Export Map Data Using Earth Engine

  1. Create cloudless map layers of Landsat 7 data
  2. Using bounding box to only save map data for Austin and Las Vegas
Above Video: Creating Earth Engine Maps

  1. Export the Map Tiles to Google’s Cloud Storage
Above Video: Export Map Tiles via Earth Engine

  1. Export the Panel Images to Google’s Cloud Storage
Above Video: Create and Export Panel Images

IV. Create Google Earth Project and Folder Structure

  1. Create New Google Earth Project
  2. Create full screen splash introduction placeholder
  3. Create Folders for…
    • Austin
      • Austin 2000
      • Austin 2020
    • Las Vegas
      • Las Vegas 2000
      • Las Vegas 2020
  4. Add Tiled Maps
  5. To get folder/feature IDs – Export Project as kml
Above Video: Structure Google Earth Story

V. Programmatically Control Earth Project Folders and Features (The Secret Sauce)

  1. Export KML
  2. Create hidden div for links
  3. Create JavaScript loop to show/hide features
Above Video: The Secret Sauce

VI. Create Introduction Splash Screen (Set the Presentation)

  1. Add image, title and description to introduction screen
  2. Set the “CLICK TO EXPLORE” button
  3. Copy/paste HTML into Google Earth Project
Above Video: Edit Introduction/Splash Screen

VII. Create 1st Panel within Austin Folder

  1. Edit Carousel, Text
  2. Set Features to hide/show
Above Video: Create Austin Panel and Set Map Overlays

  1. Set “Flyto” function for Austin Panel
Above Video: Add “Flyto” Function to Austin Panel

VIII. Create 2nd Panel within Las Vegas Folder

  1. Edit Carousel, Text
  2. Set Features to hide/show
  3. Set “Flyto” function for Las Vegas Panel
Above Video: Create Las Vegas Panel

IX. Tutorial GitHub Repository