Presentation by Barbara Wilson of Allen ISD at the ESC10 technology conference in Richardson, Texas, today. Her session description was: “Geocaching is a fun activity for students that involves searching for hidden treasures, deciphering clues, and learning to use the Global Positioning System (GPS). Incorporating geocaching in your lessons will create a fun activity which will appeal to your students.” I am recording this session with audio and will subsequently post this to the web. These are my notes, my thoughts and reflections are in ALL CAPS.

What is Geocaching?

When you bring kids out hiking looking for a treasure, then there is a whole different level to the purpose and motivation
– Geocaching lets you see many trails, parks, and other things that you might not have seen or visited without a geocaching challenge

May 21, 2000, US gov’t announced they would end the intentional degradation of the worldwide GPS system
– the accuracy of GPS technology for civilians then improved tenfold!

Dave Ulmer made the first cache, hiding something in the woods
– he called in the great American GPS cache hunt, near Beaver Creek, Oregon
– he shared the waypoint of his stash on a GPS user’s forum
– rules for his game:
1- locate the cache with only the receiver
2- once found, he had prizes in the bucket, they were to take an item and leave an item, sign the logbook, and report back

Mike Teague was the first person reported to have found it

Then web developer Jeremy Irish created geocaching.com
– were 75 caches worldwide then
– now there are caches in all 50 states and in over 200 countries

Look on Google Earth for locations of geocaches in your neighborhood
Closed cache to us now is called “Where Have All The Flowers Gone?”
Search on geocaching.com for the address of ESC10

Example for Richardson, TX from geocaching.com

Getting started
– create an ID
– load coordinates
– get some treasures that you can swap
– go hiking!

THIS IS SO FUN! I CAN’T BELIEVE I’VE NEVER TRIED GEOCACHING BEFORE. I AM GOING TO HAVE TO GET A GPS BEFORE OUR SUMMER VACATION IN NEW MEXICO AND GIVE THIS A TRY WITH MY KIDS!

Example containers
– old ammo box
– Gatorade container covered with camouflaged duct tape
– Altoids can
– small waterproof matchbox

I have found a cache that was just the size of a nickel, that had the coordinates on the back of it

most important thing for public geocaching: be waterproof, be something that animals can’t get into easily

Cool example my family found, was inside a hollowed-out tree trunk
– another example: PVC fence pole with holes in it, and the cache was at the bottom
– had to go home and get a bucket of water, poured water in the tube and the cache floated up to the top

HOW FUN IS THAT! A REAL CHALLENGE THAT REQUIRES PROBLEM SOLVING AND CRITICAL THINKING!

There IS always a logbook
– every cache has a logbook and pen for people to sign, write the date
– sometimes the log books are very small
– you can write
– put the cache back in the same way you found it or in better shape

Example of a Shreck doll that was registered on Travel Bug
– he has a tag, and a story that goes with him

If you take the travel bug, you are supposed to report it on Geocaching.com

You also find coins that you can buy online from coinsandpins.com and geoswag.com.

Benefits of bringing geocaching into your classroom
– facilitates inquiry-based learning
– adaptable for any subject area and any grade
– improves technology skills
– innovative instruction method
– it’s fun so it increases student motivation

GPS units run from $100 to $1000 each
– this is not a 1:1 ratio situation, each student does not need a GPS
– you can have 4-6 students per GPS unit
– for a typical classroom, 10 GPS units

I have a logitech GPS unit

Garmin Gecko 101 was suggested for students by a participant because it doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles

Also correlates to the Texas Technology TEKS

Young elementary student language arts example
– each student box has the same five events in it on cards, which have coordinates
– students are in groups of 4 or 5
– students finds the cache, chooses teh first event in the story
– students successively program in coordinates
– student groups are staggered
– students need to remember the events and put them in the right order

Older elementary students: lab safety
– create six different caches
– each one has a lab safety question in it, with true and false questions
– students proceed on to the next question using the coordinates
– can make that a little more complicated

I CAN SEE PROJECTS LIKE THIS BEING EASIER TO CREATE ONCE CELL PHONES HAVE INTEGRATED GPS FUNCTIONALITY, SO THAT WHEN YOU GET INTO A CERTAIN AREA ANOTHER “CLUE” CAN BE SHOWN. CHRIS DEDE HAS DISCUSSED THESE TYPES OF PROJECTS THAT STUDENTS AT HARVARD HAVE WORKED ON.

Cellular Organelles Geocaching example
– which organelles are associated with a balloon, a paper bag, and a plastic container?
– students go and find the cache, write down what they find, and then brainstorm the connections

There are lots of other GPS uses
– calculate speed
– see how fast you are going, can measure both distance and speed
– can measure the distance of your school
– calculate how much rain would fall on your school if it rained an inch

Another way to map out caches is to use Google Earth
– if you have the way points marked on Google Earth, the print that out and go find the geocaches

Geocaching Resources
– Geocaching
www.ncwiseowl.org/impact/ncgeocache/LessonPlans.com

Book: Google Earth and GPS Classroom Activities by Jim Holland and Susan Anderson (teachers from Arlington)

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  • Diane Main

    Thanks for this info. I am doing some presenting later this year that includes geocaching.

  • Kate Ter Haar

    I have been geocaching for several years and have also had students from grade three and up participate. After listening to the “Podcacher” podcast a couple of weeks ago I learned of a new educaching curriculum….http://www.educaching.com/. I ordered it and am very impressed. It will be very helpful to all geocachers or potential cachers.

  • Pingback: Podcast251: Geocaching in the Classroom by Barbara Wilson » Moving at the Speed of Creativity()

  • http://ess=k-12.blogspot.com Scott

    I like the Google Earth idea, or maybe use Google MyMaps and create your treasure hunt. The Boy Scouts had us doing this 30 years ago with a compass and USGS topo maps, old school tech. Thanks for the post!

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