Geocaching

I found a new hobby!  It combines two of my favorite things: nature and technology!!  It’s basically high-tech treasure hunting.  Who can’t get excited about THAT?!

Here’s how it works.

  • go to http://www.geocaching.com and sign up for a free account
  • search for caches in a specific area (there are 4 at Greenhill park and many more in the area)
  • find the coordinates for them and read the descriptions of them (you may also want to look at the hints).
  • program the coordinates into your gps
  • go hunting.  You will probably want to take a pen/pencil with you.

If you find a cache, there are a few rules.

  • If there are items in the cache, you can only take one if you leave a different one.  No food of course.
  • Always hide the cache back where you find it.  Make sure you hide it so that it is just a difficult (or more difficult) than it was when you found it.
  • Sign and date the log book.  (you’ll probably want to log the find on the geocaching site too).

So, what does this have to do with the TEACHING with Technology blog?  Well, kids love treasure hunts!!  And what better way to get them outside and moving than a treasure hunt!  So here’s how you’d do it in the classroom.

  • Figure out a topic (I’ll list some ideas in a minute).
  • Hide caches (with puzzles or clues or questions) around the school yard.
  • Use the gps systems to make the location of the caches.
  • Send kids (groups of 4 would work) to go find the caches and solve the problems.

I had the opportunity to observe a group of third grades geocaching last Friday.  The teacher, Meggen Devlin, developed a Science Lesson that incorporated the gps systems.  She had students find hidden caches full of pictures different types of “trash.”  Students retrieved the pictures, and then based on what they had learned from a previous part of the lesson, used the pictures to make predictions about the rate in which the different items they found (all types of materials) decompose.  The gps section of the lesson was just a part of a bigger lesson, but it sure got the kids excited and active, and make them think!

I’ve also had the opportunity to talk with fellow ITRT, and expert geocacher, Debbie Newman.  Debbie has created geocaching units to help students review for SOL tests.  You can view some of her resources here.

Finally, our very own Victoria Salvat tried geocaching with Kindergartners!  She had parents help with the activity.  She hid Easter eggs full of sight words, and had students use the gps units to find them, and then read the words to the parent.  Here’s a video from her blog!

So what are some other ideas for using geocaching in the classroom?  Here are some ideas adapted from From: Jen Deyenberg on Twitter (@jdeyenberg):

  • Have students create shapes by marking waypoints for each corner.  Create a grid map showing the shapes and waypoints.
  • Hide caches with coins or other math items.  Have students solve math problems and bring back the correct answer.
  • Have students measure objects at each cache (pencils or some other object).  Have them find the average length.
  • Each cache has a clue to answer an ultimate problem.
  • Waypoint the corners of a space and then find the perimeter of it.
  • Have them find a type of triange at each cache.  When they are finished, have them sort by properties.

Some other ideas:

  • Have students find certain trees in the school yard.  Have the decide if it is deciduous or coniferous.
  • Hide objects dealing with a famous person.  Have the decide which person. (ex. peanut for G.W. Carver, baseball for Jackie Robinson, and so on.
  • Geo-Bingo!  Have students match pictures of items at their caches with a bingo card they carry.  I think we are going to do something like this with careers…matching careers with tools…in a Guidance class.

If you get fancy, you may want to place a travel coin or a geobug in a cache, and track it with your students!  Or create your own cache, and track who visits, and where they are from!

We have a classroom set of GPS units that you can use in the classroom!  Just let your librarian or I know, and well be glad to make sure the set is delivered to you.  I would love to help you set up and run the activity as well.

Does anyone have anymore great ideas?  If so, please post below!

Image: ‘Slightly north of here
http://www.flickr.com/photos/98092274@N00/210369709

4 Comments

  1. Pingback: Langwitches » links for 2009-05-04

  2. Pingback: Geobugs!!! | Teaching with Technology

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s