Have you wished to wander among the stones at Stonehenge, walk through the ruins of Pompeii, visit the shrines of ancient Kyoto, or even explore Yellowstone National Park? Now you can! Visit the Google World Wonders project.
The ever-amazing folks at Google have collaborated with a host of partners, including UNESCO and the World Monuments fund, to put world heritage sites online, through pictures, video, and interactive 3D models. You can sit at your computer and “walk” through Stonehenge in ways that would never be possible in real life. You can search the Wonders by theme or continent. If your class were studying Louis IV, wouldn’t it be more fun with a virtual field trip to Versailles? And if you are planning a family trip to Independence Hall, you could have a virtual preview.
The World Wonders website has an Education link full of ideas and resources. There are overview guides with suggested activities for primary (elementary) and secondary grades. For example, the primary guide suggests activities for studying the locations pictured; conducting an architecture treasure hunt, locating arches, domes, etc.; or creating a World Wonders board game. The secondary guide suggests links to a variety of topics in history or geography, or introducing students to eco/heritage tourism and having them plan expeditions.
There also are activities specific to some of the Wonders. I particularly like the activities suggested around the Pompeii website, as they provide a fine example of teaching students the investigative methodologies of the disciplines—one of the 3 Keys to Creativity in the Classroom! In this case the discipline is archeology. Just click on the link at the bottom of the Education page for a file of activities and handouts. Students have the chance to explore an important archeological site and make inferences about how people lived, based on the artifacts presented. It includes links to an eyewitness account of the eruption, allowing students to synthesize information from multiple sources. In addition to being fine curriculum, it is fascinating!
The Google World Wonders project is a literally world-reaching educational opportunity. I’d love to hear how you use it—at school or at home.