Teaching geocaching & local heritage in Education Archives (Read-Only) Posted February 28, 2008 Below is a message I sent to geocaching.com headquarters this morning, but don't want to wait for the 2 weeks for a little feedback. Can anyone please respond? "I'm a professor of tourism at Missouri State University, Springfield, Missouri. Last year, I was challenged by 2 community leaders to try to promote local heritage tourism. I've been involved with local heritage tourism in our community myself for 20 years. Our community is loaded with many heritage sites (railroad, Civil War, early commerce, Black history, etc.), but they're not well known yet. At about the same time, I learned about geocaching. Instantly, the two seemed like a perfect marriage. My big problem was finding enough help to do what I want to do. Another big problem to solve is that mostly older people enjoy local history. We want to get younger people involved. Then, it dawned on me that I might be able to get elementary school kids involved . . . in technology, the geocaching sport, local history, and getting kids outdoors. It took a year to get just 18 Garmin eTrex Legends together by begging. Then, I wrote a school district foundation grant proposal, introduced it to a local at-risk elementary school principal and 2 teachers who tweaked it a bit, submitted, and got $5,000 to buy 32 more units, batteries & chargers. I realized most at-risk elementary schools are located within walking distance of many local history sites (the older part of town). For our first geocaching project, just to make it easy, I chose a pretty bombed-out historic district called Commercial Street, an old, deprived part of the community that once thrived on the railroad. Tracks run parallel to it, but more than 150 feet from it. While many of the old buildings in this commercial district are still vacant, many are now small shops. Each one has a very colorful history, from about 1895 until present. For some time, I've had students in my classes tracing the history (succeeding owners' names, names of the different businesses that have occupied the buildings over the years, and where the owners actually lived in town as well) of each building in Polk's City Directories. So now, we have a historical profile of each building that's still standing, including the names of people who lived in the upstairs apartments over the years. The plan is for my college students to meet in elementary school classrooms to teach 4th & 5th graders about GPS, satellites, geocaching, www.geocaching.com. Then we plan to practice in a park near that first school, my students coaching the kids. We plan to hide a couple of caches there too, working through the local Park Board. Next, we plan to collect the waypoints for each old building along Commercial Street Historic District. In the meantime, my students have taken digital photos of each old building and met with as many people along Commercial Street to add any detail they can to each building's history. We've now collected cache containers and camoflauged a bunch of containers. My students have collected an enormous amount of kid-friendly stuff, registration pads and pencils in ziplock bags, plus the plastic laminated (by the University's technology lab) building history sketches into the cache containers. We've spoken to many of the business people currently occupying the old buildings to ask if they would each be willing to host and maintain a cache, NOT FOR COMMERCIAL PURPOSES. Many have agreed. Once we have everything in place in late April, we'll want to post each cache on www.geocaching.com . Will that be possible? We also hope to post the entire collection of Commercial Street histories as a virtual geocache tour. This will, of course, include ALL the old buildings, not just the ones (about 50%) currently occupied. We've already paid for our 3 premium memberships. Commercial Street Historic District is gradually being restored and revitalized. Geocaching and virtual geocaching components will be just a small, but significant part of the process. Next semester, our plan is to have this year's 4th graders in the school we're currently working with go with us to a different at-risk school to train their 4th & 5th graders. Each year, we plan to continue with the training and working through different historic areas of our community. Please give me some feedback. Local geocacher, John Vaughan, has been assisting with training my students. Yesterday, he told me that a man named Glen is in St. Louis who approves all www.geocaching.com sites in Springfield. Perhaps this can be forwared to him for feedback?"