March 2, 2012

Weekend Website #88: Drive a Ship

Every Friday, I’ll send you a wonderful website (or more) that my classes and my parents love. I think you’ll find they’ll be a favorite of your students as they are of mine.

drive a ship

Use Google Earth to drive a ship




3rd grade+


Geography, strategy, problem solving, more


The fascinating geniuses at Planet in Action use Google Earth to power some of the greatest toys I’ve seen around the internet. When you visit their site, you can:

  • Drive a ship. You can select the Queen Mary or a container ship or several other options and drive them throughout the globe. You can even set it to drive while you sleep so you can see how far it got when you awake in the morning.
  • Drive the A-Team van. It’s right out of the movie and the same promo they offered on their website prior to the movie’s release (because the PIA guys programmed it)
  • Explore six different areas, from the Swiss Alps to Hollywood to EuroDisney to Mt. St. Helens and more. It’s a low-altitude fly-over that’s more exciting than even Google Earth’s Flight Simulator. It’s Open Source, so it’s free.
  • Build a business as a helicopter pilot
  • Moon Lander game–Climb aboard and take control of the “Eagle” and see if you can match Neil Armstrong’s flying skills.

If you’re creating a library of virtual tours for your school, be sure to visit this site.

Dinther Product Design (creators of Planet in Action) is a small Australian-based company that started by creating simulations for game companies and grew from there. Today, according to their website, they can’t even share details of some of their projects.

One of the favorites of my students is Ships. It gives them an opportunity to stand at the helm of the ship of their choice and guide it through the world’s oceans. The third graders like barreling it over land, while the fifth graders work to see if they can avoid land, other ships, buoys–that stuff they’re supposed to avoid. Either way, it’s become a favorite destination when I give them free time. In my estimation, this program teaches them a lot about driving, the ocean, problem-solving and strategic thinking as they have to plan ahead to get their ship where they want it to go.

Sim Tower used to be their favorite. Now it’s Ship. As a teacher, I’m thrilled to see them study the dials and make decisions based on available information.

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Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-sixth grade and creator of two technology training books for middle school. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman.  She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.comEditorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing TeachersIMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything. Currently, she’s editing a thriller for her agent that should be be out to publishers this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.