Lesson 42: Maps & Where we live

Snack & Chat

Lets talk about some of the amazing things that Computers enable us to do. The Year 2 class are learning about the world in their “All around the World” topic this term, and we’ve got a great way to explore the world right on our computers.

We have maps on our computers! And not just the kind that you unfold on paper, but we have maps with pictures of where we live. Today we are going to have a look at Google Maps during our Computer time, and I’d like to tell you how these maps were built.


This is a car with a very good camera on top of it, that takes photos on four sides at once. These photos are matched against information about where that car is driving, and are woven together on a “Google Street View” map. Take a look at one of the places that a car like that has driven!! Do you recognise it?

school on street view map

But there is also a way of looking at the map called “Google Earth”, which is photos from much higher up. Here is what a Google Engineer said about how these maps are made:  “Most people are surprised to learn that we have more than one source for our imagery. We collect it via airplane and satellite, but also just about any way you can imagine getting a camera above the Earth’s surface: hot air balloons, model airplanes – even kites.”

It’s pretty complicated to weave all of those pictures together in a way that looks smooth, and doesn’t make you dizzy when you’re looking at it. The people that do this work are computer scientists.

Here’s an example of a map image taken from the air. Do you recognise it?


Computer Time

Now it’s your turn to explore these maps. Click on any of the two map images above, and take a look around your world! Do you find anything funny or surprising? Can you find your way home?


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