Now in Google Earth: Sketchup for math in Middle School - 2

Hi, I'm a math teacher in Florence, Italy, Middle School.

For the second time I've been using Sketchup with 13-year-old students
to introduce and work with solids. (See first time).

For the final animation this time I used SketchyPhysics in order to make the cars drawn by students, run, jump, hit each other ...

I want to share the result since I think it is quite nice:

[Edit] This is the new version: sped up is much better!

(You may watch it in HD on youtube).

With this class I worked 8 weeks (1 our a week with sketchup).
All the the model were made by the students, even the blue convertible.
The only thing I added, since they repeadetely required it, are the shock absorbers for the monster truck.

Comments are really wellcome and appreciated.

[Edit] Now in Google Earth

I coudln't resist and I made the students' cars work inside Google Earth.
I did not write the code (it was written by someone at Google),
I only changed it to make it work with the students cars.

Accept to install the plugin if required, it's great fun ...

Drive your car in Google Earth

hope you like it.

Making the cars work in google earth is not related to the work on solids that
led to drawing the cars and I didnt allow the students to try the plugin at school.
However, seeing this kind of possibilities activated the students' imagination,
interest and attention in the whole subject.

Tags: animation, math, physics, sketchup, sketchyphysics, solids, video, youtube

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Hi Gina, thanks for your comment.
What I may suggest is preparing some worksheets with step by step instructinos that the kids need to follow in the lessons.
It takes some time to prepare them, but:
1- you learn a lot while preparing the worksheets,
2- I found that kids get easily used to the step by step instrunctions and love to follow them.

I'd be glad to share my worksheets but they're in italian.
You can see one of them here.
Outstanding even with my physics degree and 24 years experience in computer graphics I'm blow away by what the 13 year old kids can do these days. Now all your need collaborate with their peers so they can teach the rest of the world.

Wish I had a great teacher like you when I was 13, although my physics teachers in high school made a lasting impression.

Thank you,
(sorry for my late answer but I didn't received the rss of your comment for some reason).
You're right, what kids can do today is amazing.
I've been watching the link you gaves us,
it is actually really interesting. It opens a whole new area for teaching and learning experiments.

I think it is important to let young students know what they can do
and to offer them the possibility to engage in interesting activities.


That was awesome! Can't wait to show my students next year. You did this with Sketchy Physics?


Sorry I didn't answer before ... I was on vacation.

The students at school (13-years old students) made the cars,

I added the use of sketchyphysics to make the wheel turn.



Hi Guzman

I would love having the code for the "Drive your car in Google Earth". Could you share it? That would be great!



Of course I can share it.

The code is a modification of a google experiment

and it is actually already public.

I always wanted to make the code cleaner but never had the time to do it.

Right now it consists of the following files:

index.html (main html file, also contains some javascript)

math3d.js (javascript managing 3D matrices, I did not modified it)


keyboard-focus-hack.js (hack to change the input focus, it may be avoided, does not work perfectly)

guida.js (uploads the vehicle and makes the simulation work, I modified some behaviours and added a list of vehicles, needs some clean up)


you also need:


shadowrect.png (image for the shadow of the vehicle)

milktruck.css (css for the page, nothing special)


if there's something not clear, please ask,

I'll be glad to try to answer.





I did it! :D Sure, there was some struggling with the code. But finally it works:


Thank You so much. 

Tomorrow I will let the students create their own cars.


Awesome !!!

Glad to see you did it and

I'm happy to see someone else using this idea.

Let me know about the reactions of the students.



(the use of the arrow keys gives me sometimes some problems with firefox,

but it may just be my computer. Works fines with the other browsers. Nice job)





PS: to let the student create the cars I normally use a worksheet explaning the steps to model a car. I can share the worksheet but it is in italian: worksheet.

The students loved driving the testcar on Google Earth und they could hardly start to modelling the cars. I gave them Your worksheet. Huh, they complaint like hell: "We do not unterstand the Italien language." I am not sure, if they had read the instructions (or the images) more carefully, when it was written in German. ;-) By now I did the translation and added a screencast. We will finish the project in 3 weeks after the holidays. Look at:

Once again: Thanks for sharing :-)


Nice Job!

I've seen the worksheet in german and the video on youtube, really nice job.

The part that normally turns out to be more difficult for students

is the part where they have to simmetryze and then postion the to halves of the car.

Some students just avoid doing that by modelling the wheels and the wiindows

on both parts of the car, even if they dont match perferctly.






The models are now almost done:

Some students just avoid doing that...

Yes, that's right. I think only a few did it as it is described in the worksheet.

I added a upload function, where they can test their model with its size and orientation. This is very handy, because the students can check themself, if everything is fine.

I also created this: Just for fun ;-) Unfortunately there is a bug in the script and it starts only after some arrow keys are hit. 




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