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Educational Geocaching


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Greetings. My name is Dwight, I'm a high school science teacher (earth science, chemistry, and physics) in Ohio and I'm new to this group. I just purchased an Etrex Vista cx (it hasn't arrived yet), but have had some experience with using a gps.

 

For a while, I've been pondering the idea of using a gps to help teach about distance, displacement, velocity, etc. to my physics students. I've also been thinking of using them to help teach about lat/long for my earth science students. Recently, I've been looking at the geocache website and thought it might be a good project for my students to learn about various areas/features. For example, setup a cache that shows various rock formations and have it explain those features. Instead of reading a book and/or looking at pictures, have

the students actually visit those areas.

 

Has anyone done anything like this? Any thoughts of things that should be considered (ie, safety, equipment, ideas)? Does anyone know where I could go or contact where they are already doing this? Are there any lesson plans available? Does anyone offer geocaching as a form of continuing education for teachers (near north cental Ohio)? I'm new to this and would appreciate any help. I apologize ahead of time, I'm sure many of these topics have already been discussed.

 

Thank you,

Dwight

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I did an integrated unit on geocaching involving lots of curriculum areas (middle school). I used the periodic table as a resource for puzzle caches (used atomic number, atomic weight, the number of inert gases, etc.) that I hid on school grounds (unpublished, of course).

 

I wonder if you could set up a puzzle cache involving chemical equations... Set it up as multiple choice with coords for each response. Hide a container at each set of coords. The wrong answers could have some "extra help" explaining what mistake was made to reach this incorrect response. (Similar to a "Survivor" type challenge where choosing the wrong answer will mislead the searcher and cost time.)

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Go to my website at weteachgps.com. I was the gps expert at the local outdoor store for many years. When I started my teaching masters I got a grant to build this site and the accompanying blog weteachgps.edublogs.com. Let me know what you all think!

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Go to my website at weteachgps.com. I was the gps expert at the local outdoor store for many years. When I started my teaching masters I got a grant to build this site and the accompanying blog weteachgps.edublogs.com. Let me know what you all think!

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I just finished a unit where I taught University students how to teach high school students how to use gps units. We did this by creating "day geocaches". The best thing about this unit was - it kept a kid from dropping out of school!

 

I have lesson plans I found on the web.

 

I suggest contacting a National Wildlife Refuge near you because biologist use gps units in their jobs to track eagle nesting sites, to locate vegetation sampling points, to track invasive species. We use arcmap to create maps from the waypoints.

 

There may be a real life project on the refuge - such as mapping invasive species that the students could help with and thus learn about a career opportunity at the same time.

 

Good luck - Wheeze

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The original poster sounds to me like he was referring to Earthcaching. There are LOTS of ways to integrate geocaching into school work. I organize the programming for a summer camp in NY and last year we did a full days lessons on Geocaching. The entire day was essentially one long puzzle cache, and it was done on the last full day of camp, as a review of all the things we had talked about all week long. They had to review their notes to answer questions about weather patterns, gravity, chemical equations, etc... to come up with answers to questions, to give them the next set of coords. I didn't have the staff needed to do what I really wanted, which was to set up actual experiments at different locations, supervised by a counselor who would act as a station-master. But still, the kids really enjoyed it, and we got lots of positive comments on our evaluations.

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I just finished a unit where I taught University students how to teach high school students how to use gps units. We did this by creating "day geocaches". The best thing about this unit was - it kept a kid from dropping out of school!

 

I have lesson plans I found on the web.

 

I suggest contacting a National Wildlife Refuge near you because biologist use gps units in their jobs to track eagle nesting sites, to locate vegetation sampling points, to track invasive species. We use arcmap to create maps from the waypoints.

 

There may be a real life project on the refuge - such as mapping invasive species that the students could help with and thus learn about a career opportunity at the same time.

 

Good luck - Wheeze

 

Hi

 

I am currently looking for introductory level (middle-high school) GPS/geocaching lesson plans, so when I viewed your reply I thought I might see If you could possibly supply information on the lesson plans you found on the web? Or point me in the right direction to other sources?

 

thanks

 

lisa

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I am currently looking for introductory level (middle-high school) GPS/geocaching lesson plans, so when I viewed your reply I thought I might see If you could possibly supply information on the lesson plans you found on the web? Or point me in the right direction to other sources?

 

thanks

 

lisa

 

Hi Lisa,

Check out educaching.com for a 4-8 grade curriculum that's all-inclusive, easily adapted for high schoolers!

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Each state has their own geocaching association...here in Wisconsin, it's the Wisconsin Geocaching Association and we have our own website and forums. Try starting a thread in your own state's forums. You might be surprised to find out how many cachers are teachrs...and even those that aren't will have some helpful suggestions. I've learned a lot from the techies out there[:D]

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Dwight, don't know if you are still geocaching in the classroom, but I have just started. I am a Biology teacher and will hide caches around the school grounds. The kids are broken into teams of 4 and given the coordinates for the first cache . Each cache has the other coordinates and a clue. A couple of the caches are bogus- otherwise they might all finish at the same time. They have to put all the clues together to solve the "riddle." I have used concepts such as photosynthesis and cell division for this. :anitongue:

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Greetings. My name is Dwight, I'm a high school science teacher (earth science, chemistry, and physics) in Ohio and I'm new to this group. I just purchased an Etrex Vista cx (it hasn't arrived yet), but have had some experience with using a gps.

 

For a while, I've been pondering the idea of using a gps to help teach about distance, displacement, velocity, etc. to my physics students. I've also been thinking of using them to help teach about lat/long for my earth science students. Recently, I've been looking at the geocache website and thought it might be a good project for my students to learn about various areas/features. For example, setup a cache that shows various rock formations and have it explain those features. Instead of reading a book and/or looking at pictures, have

the students actually visit those areas.

 

Has anyone done anything like this? Any thoughts of things that should be considered (ie, safety, equipment, ideas)? Does anyone know where I could go or contact where they are already doing this? Are there any lesson plans available? Does anyone offer geocaching as a form of continuing education for teachers (near north cental Ohio)? I'm new to this and would appreciate any help. I apologize ahead of time, I'm sure many of these topics have already been discussed.

 

Thank you,

Dwight

 

I think this is a great idea!

 

Since these are physics students I also think a class or two on the basics of how the GPS system works would be great introduction before going into the field! Covering the basics from how GPS satellites send out their precise time, the ephemeris and other information. I think a lot of people are completely in the dark about how the GPS system works and you could give a pretty high level view without getting too complicated.

 

If this is for an upper level highschool class I think you could even do some basic trilateration equations to show how (roughly) an individuals position on earth could be calculated from the above values.

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I teach a unit on GPS where we talk about latitude, longitude, maps, etc. I have a set of Magellan GPS that our Ag teacher requisitioned and then never used. We start out at the football field and I give each team three plastic Easter eggs to hide and mark the coordinates. Everyone meets back at the start point and exchanges GPS units. The first team back wins extra credit.

 

I also talk about geocaches and earthcaches. We go find a geocache that is close to our school just to give them an idea of what it is all about. They love finding something hidden in a place they pass by on a regular basis!

 

We also have an abandoned railway with lots of benchmarks, so we talk about them, too.

 

I have plans for an extra credit assignment involving geocache or earthcache...still in the unrealized vision stage.

 

We started a project where we use the GPS to map rock formations, but had to abandon it due to an freakishly early snow storm. There are several things I am wanting to try with GPS that I haven't had time to sit down and create.

 

Tracie

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Dwight,

I am an Earth Science Teacher in Pennsylvania. I don't use it regularly but I do use it. To start with, a regular car gps (such as garmin) works pretty well. You don't need anything super expensive to have fun with geocaching. Our school purchased about a dozen cheap gps units. To start the kids off with the gps units I hide six tupperware containers around the school grounds. I break the group up (usually 2 per unit) and have them pick an envelope. Each envelope points to a different tupperware container. You will have to start the groups at different times or they will just follow each other. Each container contains a new set of coordinates that will lead them to the next. After they know how to use them, I usually include a geocache in one of my fieldtrips. This year I am planning to hide some of my own so others can see and learn about the rock formations in the area. I will then be able to include them in all of my field trips. Hope this helps. It is an addicting habbit and the kids love it. Anything to get them away from the x-box and outside is fantastic. Good work.

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There are also some excellent instructional geocaching materials available at curriculummagic.com. I met the people who wrote these geocaching books at the National Educational Computing Conference last summer while I was presenting on geocaching as an instructional tool. They have some really good stuff that can be adapted to fit any subject and grade level.

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