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Photo by Gabriel Tovar via Unsplash

Database Provider


Google Earth


3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Social Studies, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences, Geography

Resource Type

  • Interactive Media

Regional Focus


Urban Expansion

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  • This interactive time-lapse map takes students around the world to nine different locations to explore urban expansion over time.
  • Satellite imagery dates back to 1985 and each location includes a summary of the changes observed and some of the unique features of each location.
Teaching Tips


  • The descriptions provide information about the drivers of urban expansion, mitigating factors, and/or some solutions to the challenges faced in different locations.
  • Seeing these changes from satellite imagery is a powerful way to introduce students to a number of related topics.

Additional Prerequisites

  • If you are using wireless Internet or a slower connection, it may take longer for the images to load.
  • Pausing the progression of images allows students to compare the images from different years and identify all of the changes.


Scientist Notes
This resource displays precise spatial locations of areas of urban expansion. The resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • MS-ESS3-4 Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth's systems.
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • HS-ETS1-1 Analyze a major global challenge to specify qualitative and quantitative criteria and constraints for solutions that account for societal needs and wants.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Geography
      • D2.Geo.10.9-12 Evaluate how changes in the environmental and cultural characteristics of a place or region influence spatial patterns of trade and land use.
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