Free Topographic Maps through Google Earth

MapFinder: A USGS Topographic Map Index

“MapFinder for Google Earth is a “.kmz” application that loads into Google Earth and shows the 7.5 minute quad USGS topographic map boundaries for the lower 48 states.  Each boundary has an identification point that givse you information about the USGS topo map.  This information includes the map name, scale, year, projection, and contour interval.  The most exciting feature of this application is that there is a download link that enables you to download the topographic map for free.”

Here are the steps:

  1. Download Google Earth at
  2. Download the MapFinder file at
  3. Browse to and open the “.kmz” file from within Google Earth.  When it opens, you will notice a menu within Google Earth that allows you to choose a state of interest.
  4. Once you have chosen a state, zoom in on that state and you will see the topographic map boundaries, each with a clickable blue information symbol.  Hover over a particular information symbol, and you will see the name of that topo map.  Upon clicking, a web page will open, where you will see a link to download a tiff file of that map.
  5. The tiff file is your free digital copy of the topographic map.

Have fun exploring the US digitally, but I hope these maps give you the knowledge to explore in the real world as well!

iPhone apps for the Biology Teacher

A few months ago, I spent quite a bit of time searching for science related apps that could potentially be useful for my life as a biology teacher.  I have downloaded a number and have had the opportunity to discover those that I have found most useful (or potentially useful) in that role.


The main post contains a list of 16 iPhone apps.  Each app icon is followed by a brief description and links that may be helpful for you in making a decision on acquiring the app.   For those that I have found especially useful, I discuss specific manner(s) it has been used.  Furthermore, if you don’t have an iPhone some of the producers of these apps have websites that may be useful as well.

For those unfamiliar with iPhones, these apps must be acquired through the apps store in iTunes so in many cases there are not internet links to pages with further information on these apps.  To learn more, download iTunes, and search the app names in the iTunes store, or google search and read what you can find.

Happy app hunting…

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