Google Earth for visualizing population density by student Osvaldo Venegas

Duke student Osvaldo Venegas participated in a Writing 20 class focused on Google Earth taught by Chris Erlien in the Thompson Writing Program; one assignment was to share ideas for teaching. Read all of their ideas at the class blog, Teaching (and Learning) with Google Earth. Here, we repost one student’s writing.

Student Osvaldo Venegas wrote about different ways to use Google Earth to visualize population density:

Faculty planning a lesson on population density? Make Google Earth your guide in order to simplify and make your lesson more interactive. Google Earth provides an array of applications which allow for a more interactive lesson. Here are a few applications which may help make an environmental impact or sociology class a population density lesson:

Screenshot of population density indexScreenshot of population density index

Population Density: People/Kilometer²

The first application for population density contains the global statistics for people per kilometer squared. The application is easy to use. The index seen in the picture correlates the different shades of color on the globe with the amount of people/km2. The data utilized to present this information comes from the last census in 2000.

This application can be utilized to:

  • Correlate resources being exhausted with population density; or any cause and effect
  • Compare population densities in different countries
    Comparison of population density in AsiaComparison of population density in Asia

The download for this application can be found by clicking the link Population Density Application download.

Population Density through Light Pollution

The next application comes from the National Geophysical Data Center. With data obtained from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program, it shows the world during night hours, which allows us to view the amount of light pollution emitted by different locations.

The application shows global composites of light pollution which:

  • Helps in visualizing population density and
  • Access of technology in different areas of the world.

The download for this application is found by clicking the link DMSP Global Composites application download.

Population Density in the Past Half Century

The last application contains animations for population density in a simple way which allows for the comparing of population size throughout more than half a century. The application features a bar graph-like presentation of population size. It is easy to configure; a bar on the top left can be scrolled left or right to change year.

This application can be utilized for

  • Viewing population change throughout time
  • Viewing a simple and interactive population size bar graph

The download for this application can be found by clicking the link World Population Animation application download.

Make Your Own Lessons with Google Earth

Google also provides help to educators on how to create their own lessons with Google Earth. Google gives examples on how its software can help educators on its website. With the help of outside sources, tutorials for educators for different Google Earth features are available on the Google Earth Lessons website.

Google Earth and its applications allow for the quick and interactive teaching of population density. The applications are simple and free for the utilization of the public which allows each student to download and interact with the lesson while you present.