Google SketchUp software enables students to create 3D models that can be placed in Google Earth. SketchUp creations can be constructed to scale by entering exact measures. A variety of texture patterns are available but SketchUp also allows the pasting of digital photographs on faces. Completed works can be uploaded as a file to Google Earth or shared with others. Google will also accept models for consideration in their 3D Buildings collection.
One possible Project Based Learning activity would have students model their school. Working in teams, measurements and digital photos can be collected and a collaborative 3D model made. Some other considerations for projects could have students designing buildings in their community, creating fictitious buildings or cities, or trying to model the Eiffel Tower or Taj Mahal.
Designing 3D models requires practice. There is an array of tools that students will need to learn how to use. Project Based Learning encourages students to be actively involved and find solutions to their problems. Teamwork, time limits, and self evaluation should be part of the assignment. Those students who become experts should be asked to help others in the class. Like Google Earth, SketchUp offers a number of tutorial videos and help pages. A free version of SketchUp is available for download below.