Google Earth Lessons

An Educational Resource for Teachers

 X-TREME Geometry -
Intense Right Triangles
Teacher's Resource Page

Get an adreneline rush with Google Earth and Math!

Geography, Geology and Geometry! Three G's that lead to an exciting , motivating way to investigate the properties of right triangles! If you live near the mountains this is a fun lesson to use to investigate how abstract mathematical concepts can have real life applications.


In this lesson students download a Google Earth placemark file that contains information about ski resorts throughout North America. The student then selects a ski slope at one of the resorts and tries to find the slope with the longest, steepest run. The way they do that is by using the measurement tool in conjunction with the elevation data in Google Earth to construct a right triangle representing the slope. By using formulas the student calculates the missing side of the triangle and the three angles. Also included in the lesson are instructions for the student to create a graphic representation of their research and calculations for incorporation into a placemark which is turned in to the teacher for grading. The teacher can compile and share the placemarks the students create.

This was constructed more as a 'Concept' lesson about some of the possibilities for content areas other than Social Studies that can be addressed with Google Earth as the motivator. As a teacher, you may wish to preview sections of the video tutorial to make certain that they keep to your classroom's Math Vocabulary standards. You may also wish to use the videos to have the students search for vocabulary and content errors for extra credit :-)

Support Materials:


This lesson could take as short as a single class period of roughly 1 hour but could easily stretch to more as you have students compare results, find more than one slope or investigate other aspects of geometry using Google Earth. The lesson was inspired by the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino Italy. The Google Earth team released a wonderful placemark collection which you can download here.

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  Last Modified:April 8, 2006