SketchUp in a high school history class

Pick a high school - any high school - and in the history class you might find some of the students doodling, yawning and pretending to stay awake. Replace that scene with an enthusiastic teacher and a healthy dose of SketchUp and you might see every student engaged! After all, it’s not every day a high school student can model a local building and upload to Google Earth for the world to see. In some cases, they might get so engaged they chomp at the bit to get access to tutorial videos while on road trips.

Does this sound far fetched? Not to Hartford High School teacher, Michael Hathorn, who introduced his class to the 3D Buildings layer in Google Earth and started teaching them about local history while they used SketchUp to model their home town of Hartford, Vermont. The class caught on quickly and now have over 75 models in their Hartford History Project collection in the Google 3D Warehouse. Over 50 buildings have been accepted into Google Earth.


The benefits of students being engaged in their own learning has not been lost on Michael. He told us, “Some teachers may say the book history is more important but I feel like the end result is these guys are teaching, verses learning and that’s when you really become a student - when you make that transition to teaching. I think learning SketchUp is really important for a history class like this.”

Technology has been a key part of the class, and the idea that the students would share their local history with the world. They created a website and blog to accompany and showcase the 3D models. With each model created, a history of the building is researched and added to the growing website dedicated to their town. It’s definitely worth a look.

We were so intrigued by the efforts of these students that we highlighted them in a new video: