EO Detective

Investigating the Earth from Space

Teaching Resources

Children in classroom doing from the earth and from the sky activity

Credit: CG/NCEO

For everyone

What would you photograph?

In this activity, which is differentiated by age, students take on the role of earth observation scientists submitting a request for an image they would like for their research. This gives them the opportunity to consider the possibilities of pictures taken from orbit  (and the limitations) and to write scientifically for a specific audience. It can be used to consolidate learning from the other resources.
Download Where would you photograph? Primary school version
Download Where would you photograph? Age 11–14 version
Download Where would you photograph? Age 14+ version

Title, image of Tim Peake, pencils and Dubai, various logos
Claire Burwell

Colour in the Earth with Tim Peake – for grown-ups! 

(or older children) This booklet contains  line drawings based on some of Tim’s photographs of the Earth from the ISS for you to print off and colour. They are more complex, unlabelled versions of the images used in the primary-school resource (see below).

Download Colour in the Earth with Tim Peake – for grown-ups! 

Meet the EO Detectives

You can play a range of games with this set of cards that give some key information about 20 people whose jobs are related to or uses Earth observation. The work and career paths of those featured are described in more detail in individual blog posts on this site, and will also be used in a  secondary-school resource which will be coming soon.

Read more about Meet the EO Detectives, and download the cards.

Mainly for primary schools

Colour in the Earth with Tim Peake

This resource is based around a booklet of line drawings created from a few of Tim Peake’s photographs of the earth from space. Between them, the images illustrate a wide range of human and natural features. Several of the features emphasised in each drawing are listed so children can create a key, effectively beginning the process of changing the photograph into a map. The presentations include larger versions of the photographs, slides showing how they relate to the drawings, and ‘coloured-in’ drawings for classroom use. The teacher guide gives more information and describes an activity that also encourages students to think about what features might show in a photograph taken from space, what they might look like, what information it is useful to have on a map and how best to display it.

Download Colour in the Earth with Tim Peake

*From the ground and from the sky

This activity introduces the idea of remote observation by asking students to match photographs taken from the ground with early astronaut photographs. It reinforces the use of geographical vocabulary to refer to physical and human features and extends the idea of recognising such features from aerial photographs.
Download From the ground and from the sky

Viva Las Vegas!

This main activity shows how earth observation can be used to study human geography. It asks students to measure the area of Las Vegas at three separate times over the last few decades, predict its current extent and then check their prediction. It can be used to teach, consolidate or review the measurement of irregular areas or/and addition and multiplication of fractions.
Download Viva Las Vegas!

Watching a glacier

This activity shows how EO data is used to monitor environmental change and also asks students to measure irregular areas in a sequence of pictures, this time bright false-colour composites created from satellite data.
Download Watching a glacier (7–11)
Download abridged version

Blue glaciers, red plants
USGS/NCEO

Mainly for secondary schools

*Astronaut or satellite?

This activity introduces the idea of remote sensing and some of the difficulties of obtaining images from orbit by asking students to compare astronaut photographs, many of them from early missions, with satellite imagery.
Download Astronaut or satellite?
Download abridged version

Watching a glacier

This brief activity uses false-colour images of the Columbia glacier to introduce the idea of using sequences of satellite images to monitor change and focuses on the selection of appropriate data for an investigation.
Download Watching a glacier (11–14)

Exploring rainforests

In this activity, students examine changes to forests in cross-border regions of Africa and Borneo using Google Earth Pro to help identify features shown in satellite images and make measurements. The context allows students to explore the factors which put pressure on forested areas, and what is being done to protect them, as well as providing an opportunity to consider how incomplete data and subjective measurements can be used effectively.
Download Exploring rainforests

2 volcanoes, purple lava, lake and rainforest
USGS/NCEO

What can we see from space?

This short activity introduces students to the ideas of the footprint and resolution of an image, asking them to choose and use appropriate methods to calculate how these quantities would change as they moved a camera to a series of vantage points above the surface of the Earth.
Download What can we see from space?

Seeing temperatures

This activity allows students to investigate how images are produced from data streams by using first a spreadsheet and then an image-processing program. They then go on to see how the usefulness of such a monochromatic image may be enhanced by using lookup tables and calibration. The materials used focus on the thermal infra-red allowing discussion of the electromagnetic spectrum and blackbody radiation.
Download Seeing temperatures
Download abridged version

Building images 

In this activity, students create colour images from satellite data. This allows them to study how different surfaces reflect different wavelengths of light, how coloured images are created using an RGB model, and how band combinations can be chosen to examine a particular landscape effectively.
Download Building images

Orange yellow desert, brown mountains, scattered brown circles
USGS/NCEO

*These will be updated shortly after the new resources are published.

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