We can learn about and visit our local rivers, but sometimes we might like to learn different things and see more of the river than we can do by visiting it locally. How can we do that? One way is to use tools like Google Earth that project satellite imagery onto our computer screens, allowing us to explore lands and waters near and far right from our homes or schools.
Since I was a kid, I have been fascinated with maps and especially rivers. Exploring river landscapes would be intriguing and something I looked forward to in my free time. I never imaged that looking at maps and creating them would be my job as an adult. In my role as a Research Assistant at FIRE Lab, I have been mapping instream infrastructure, such as dams, weirs, and culverts, around the world and in the UK. I use Google Earth for a few of my mapping activities and this inspired the idea for making a fun educational video for our future geographers and explorers.
In the new Jac’s River Adventure activity video, I link my mapping work with Jac’s visits along her local river. Together we visit the River Tawe, which is near both of our homes here in Wales, United Kingdom. Young people can log onto our YouTube and see the short video of Jac and I on our Google Earth River Adventure. Through the video I share about was we can explore our local rivers and investigate them using the online platform Google Earth. This video can be a great opportunity for young people to have a sneak at the river Tawe in Swansea and interesting places along the river.
The process of making this video was a valuable learning experience for me. I used a screen recording tool and the “Project” option on Google Earth to combine and create a virtual experience of the river, starting at the most downstream point, in the urban setting of the Swansea Marina, and moving upstream to the hills and Tawe’s source in the Brecon Beacons National Park.
Spoiler alert! Along the way you will notice that I emphasise the presence of different types of river infrastructures, but you will have to watch video to find out why!
Let us know what you think of the video and about your experiences exploring local nature and rivers in the past, now, or the future. To share your thoughts and experiences, you can tweet us @FireLabTweets or leave a comment below the video on our YouTube channel.
Hope you enjoy exploring your local river on Google Earth.