Teen Tech Tips #33: Using Fusion Tables for Mapping 
Welcome back to the blog for some exciting, web-based fun! One of our past topics Geographic Information Systems (GIS) covered analytic map-making software that you can use for school research projects.

But what if you simply want to plot a set of waypoints on a map to embed in a blog? A Google Fusion Table can be created for free using Google Drive. Check out our example map below of all 18 Library branches:

Collecting and Formatting Your Data

The most important part of putting together your map is correctly formatting your data into columns. In fact, when working with databases and spreadsheets, it is best to think of your columns as fields and your rows as separate entries in each field. Let's take a look at an example together:

This table is organized into two fields (Location and Address), and we see the first 11 entries--one for each branch. Each field has a specified data type, text for branch, and addresses has been formatted as location.

The table we made is very simple with no additional information, but you can add as many fields as you want. Your fields can include links to photos or websites, so be creative. The information will be displayed on the location marker on your map.

You can create and edit a spreadsheet using Excel or Google Spreadsheet and upload it to Google Drive. (Note: you will need to sign up for a Google account, which is free. You can use any email address and do not have to create Gmail account.)

Making Your Fusion Table

Once you have logged into your Google Drive account, select the 'Create' button. At the bottom of the drop down dialogue box, select 'Connect to More Apps' and search for 'Fusion Tables'. This will add Fusion Tables to the list of documents that you can now create.

You can create your table from scratch using Fusion Tables or upload a previously created table from you computer.

Once you have create a table with addresses (you can also use Geographic Coordinates for locations that do not have an address), click the 'Map' tab and Google will geocode your addresses and create map of you locations. You can select the drop-down menu from the 'Map' tab to edit the map style and settings.

Publishing and Sharing your Map

Once you have fine tuned your map and are ready to share it, select 'File > Share' and set you parameters. You can share it with one or more people and email a link to your map, or you can select share publicly and publish in a blog post or website.

To share on another site, select 'Tool > Publish' and copy the HTML embed code into your blog or site.

For more, check out this Video Tutorial

Using Map Maps for School

We have only really scratched the surface of what you can do with Fusion Tables. Here a few great ideas to take your next school project to the next level.

Autobiographical Photo Tour - make a map of the important places you've been and link to photos
Historical Locations - Civil War battle sites or Ancient Greek cities
Study Plants and Animals - map plant habitats or animal migration

Want to master Fusion Tables? Be sure to check out these informational resources and tutorials - click here.

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