A View from the Top: Looking at Earth from Space

Target Audience
  • Students
Hosting Center(s)
  • Goddard Space Flight Center
Subject Category
  • Earth Science
Unit Correlation
  • Exploring Earth
Grade Level
  • K-04
  • 05-08
  • 09-12
Minimum Delivery Time
  • 030 min(s)
Maximum Connection Time
  • 050 min(s)

Event Focus


NASA scientists study images of Earth taken from space. What can be seen from space and what can we learn from these pictures?


5-8, 9-12

NASA scientists study images of Earth taken from space from geographic and scientific points of view. What can we learn by studying Earth imagery?



The module is appropriate for video conference and web conference presentation.

Many of us have marveled at the beautiful photographs of the Earth taken from the Space Shuttle and International Space Station. NASA researchers collect data relating to climate change, weather events, pollution, and land use through Earth Observation Satellites. Join NASA's Digital Learning Network as we work together to develop interpretive skills and learn how to look at space-based photography the same way NASA Earth observation scientists do.


Instructional Objectives




Learners will share prior knowledge about methods of Earth observation, how satellites work, and geographical features on Earth.




Learners will gain knowledge about how satellites retrieve information through remote sensing and the benefits of observing Earth from space.


Learners will discover how information gathered by satellites can help scientists observe and predict various events on Earth, such as precipitation, urban development, natural pollution, and uncovering lost ancient civilizations.



Learners will demonstrate their understanding by explaining how satellites are used in many careers, such as archaeology, weather forecasting, architecture and urban development.



Learners will demonstrate their understanding of the benefits of Earth-observing satellites by participating in NASA-sponsored activities recommended by the Education Specialist, such as EarthKAM.


Sequence of Events


Pre-Conference Activities


The items below are previews of the activities only. For the complete module and event information, please see the Complete Educator Guide link for each grade level.


Grade K-4

"The Adventures of Amelia the Pigeon"

Amelia the Pigeon uses aerial photography to focus on the benefits of a bird’s eye view. Throughout the interactive adventure portion of the website, aerial and satellite imagery are used to demonstrate the advances of remote sensing.  Select one or more of the lessons from the Amelia the Pigeon links found at the IMAGERS website to use before the videoconference.


Link to interactive story:  http://science.hq.nasa.gov/kids/imagers/amelia/index.html


Link to teachers’ guide for K-2 and 3-4 lessons: http://science.hq.nasa.gov/kids/imagers/amelia/teachersguide/index.html

  K-4 View from the Top Activities               

  K-4 View from the Top Complete Educator Guide              


Grade 5-8

"EarthKAM Land Forms" Activity:

Students will use interpretive skills to explore how color, shapes, and patterns allow them to interpret images from space.

5-8 View from the Top Activities              

5-8 View from the Top Complete Educator Guide              


Grade 9-12

"Change in Perspective" Activity:

Students will view various objects from different perspectives.


"EarthKAM Land Forms" Activity:

Students will use interpretive skills to explore how color, shapes, and patterns allow them to interpret images from space.

9-12 View from the Top Activities              

9-12 View from the Top Complete Educator Guide              


Videoconference Activities


Students will interact with a NASA Education Specialist as they learn about imagery collected from the International Space Station, a ;pw-Earth orbit, permanent platform for remote sensing. Students will discover how NASA's investigation of the imagery reveals facts about our own planet and its processes. Students will also learn how NASA researchers collect data relating to climate change, weather events, pollution, and urban development using Earth Observation Satellites.


Please note: If you are registering for an event targeting K-2 students, the program will be modified to fit in a 30-minute time frame.


Post-Conference Activities






NOTE: The following standards are abbreviated for the 5-8 module. Due to the lentgh of standard descriptions, expected student behaviors are listed in the Educator Guide. Standards and expected student behaviors for grades K-4 and 9-12 can be found in the appropriate Educator Guide.


Content Standard D: Earth and Space Science


Structure of the earth system (5-8)

Students’ study of Earth's history provides some evidence about co-evolution of the planet's main features—the distribution of land and sea, features of the crust, the composition of the atmosphere, global climate, and populations of living organisms in the biosphere. Through direct observation and satellite images, students should be able to conclude that Earth has unique features that distinguish it from other planets in the solar system.


National Science Education Standards (NSES)

Content Standard F: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives


Populations, Resources, and Environment (5-8)

Students learn about a population, its culture, its environmental surroundings, and risks from technologies resulting in environmental degradation through observation of lithographs of Earth taken from space. Analysis of lithographs will allow students to develop inference skills about the people who inhabit a particular area of Earth and learn about how technology and science can provide both positive and negative consequences on a society and its environment.


Content Standard: Science and Technology (5-8)

The science and technology standards establish connections between the natural and designed worlds and provide students with opportunities to develop decision-making abilities. As a complement to the abilities developed in the science as inquiry standards, these standards call for students to develop abilities to identify and state a problem, design a solution—including a cost and risk-and-benefit analysis—implement a solution, and evaluate the solution. Science as inquiry is parallel to technology as design. Both standards emphasize student development of abilities and understanding.


National Geography Standards


Standard 4: The Physical and Human Characteristics of Places (5-8)

This standard covers how different physical processes shape places, how different human groups alter places in distinctive ways, and the role of technology in shaping the characteristics of places.

> Back To Top

Page Last Updated: November 5th, 2014
Page Editor: NASA Administrator