Feb 17, 2015

Google Maps Street View Games

Google Maps is a frequently used tool that allows many people to get where they need to go on a regular basis. The ability to read, navigate, and use a map (digital, even print) is a skill our students will need. Google Maps, in particular Satellite and Street Views, adds a new layer of usefulness in the classroom. We can even explore the Grand Canyon and the Eiffel Tower without the need for permissions slips (see Treks)!

Below are games built on Google Maps Street View that can help students put into practice their understanding of maps, geography, and culture. In each of these games, players are dropped into Street View with the goal of locating their location on a world map. They can explore the space just as they would in Maps: keyboard arrow keys, on screen arrow keys, clicking a specific spot, and zoom. Players can not move out of Street View.

Students will need to draw on their understanding of the world. While this will be challenging for students limited travel or cultural experience, many players will be surprised at how much they know and are able to infer from the visual cues. Some things to consider:
  • Street signs: language, style
  • Road signs: street/highway or city names
  • Road style: construction, painting, traffic direction
  • Landscape: land formations
  • Horticulture: trees, plants
  • People: physical appearance, style of dress
  • Vehicles: style, licence plates, government stickers (inspection, registration, etc.)
  • Building and other signs: language, style, phone numbers, town names

Depending on your learning goals, allow students to use some or all of their resources: questioning, web search, printed maps, gazetteers, almanacs, and each other. Enterprising students may realize that they can grab a screen capture to use in Google Image Search.

GeoGuessr drops players in random locations around the world (default play). Players can also choose a "map" to narrow the focus: United States, Philadelphia, New York, Japan, Australia, Famous Places, and several others.  Points are earned based on proximity to the correct location which is measured in both miles and kilometers (higher score is best). For an extra challenge, set a time limit for each round (when choosing specific maps). GeoGuesser allows players to create accounts to save scores. For Google Apps schools, students can create an account/login with their Google account.

GeoSettr allows you (or your students) to customize the game. Navigate to the desired locations, grab the Street View icon, and drop it into place (no search capability). Once you have five locations saved you will be given a unique URL to share with others.

Earth-Picker places players in select locations, usually highly recognizable cities, structures, or landforms. The developer invites submissions of Street View images (might be a great project for a class: locate notable places on Street View, explain the importance). Score is determined by the total difference in distance (in kilometers) between the players response and actual location. Lower scores are best in this game.

Locateastreet challenges players to name the town or city in which they have been dropped. Four choices are given at the bottom of the screen, allowing players to . Players can use clues (elevation, street name, remove 2 choices), but it will cost them points. In addition, players lose points for moving around the map (no reductions for spinning).  Choose to play worldwide, within a specific country, or one of the thematic challenges. It is possible to narrow the search to a specific state, county, or even city.

This one is a little different. Included for zombie enthusiasts!
Street View Zombie Apocalypse is exactly what it sounds like: enter an address, drop into that location in Street View, and run from the zombies. Zombies show as pins on an inset map, cartoon characters (not too gory) as they approach on Street View. Students can run for safety in their own neighborhood, historical locations, or anywhere else that has been captured by Street View.