Building an education game with the Google Earth application programming interface to enhance geographic literacy

Tsan Kuang Lee, Laura Guertin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

5 Scopus citations


As part of a course objective to improve the geographic literacy of students in higher education, Penn State's Amazing Race, a modified version of Google Earth's application programming interface (API) demo game, Geo Whiz, engages students in learning physical geography within a Google Earth browser plug-in. Students navigate around the Earth to identify on the globe the locations of various countries, major cities, United States national parks, and locations with features of geological signifi- cance. To better achieve the learning goal, several game elements were incorporated into the game interface: a timer to encourage concentration, a ranking board with scores of all players to motivate students to improve and to assess learning results, and a replay function for instructors to review students' performance and specific difficulties. Google Earth API is used to control the Earth movements and map display, while custom JavaScript code adds the function of a timer, recording/playback, and score keeping. Google Earth's browser plug-in does not provide a layer that contains political boundaries without state and country labels, so one additional feature added to The Amazing Race is Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)-published boundary data without the names of world countries and U.S. states converted to a zipped Keyhole Markup Language (KMZ) file. The framework of this game can be easily exported for application to other disciplines for various student levels and ages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGoogle Earth and Virtual Visualizations in Geoscience Education and Research
PublisherGeological Society of America
Number of pages7
ISBN (Print)9780813724928
StatePublished - 2012

Publication series

NameSpecial Paper of the Geological Society of America
ISSN (Print)0072-1077

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geology


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