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GPS and Geocaching in ALL Subject Areas in School

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This is a write up I presented to the Administration at my Middle School to get GPS units ordered for Technology Club and all other subject areas. Please feel free to use these ideas and add more ideas that you have!


Integrating GPS, GIS, and Geocaching into the classroom can benefit all subject areas. GPS is a Global Positioning System that transmits signals between receivers and satellites around the world to locate positions within feet. GIS is a Geographic Information System which is recorded data, on a map, using specific software (www.gis.com). Geocaching is a high-tech treasure-hunting expedition that requires a GPS unit to find caches hidden all around the world. Currently there are almost 700,000 caches placed around the world (www.geocaching.com).


In Math, a student is able to use the GPS unit to plot points and then he/she is able to load those points onto Google Earth and view them for better spatial literacy. Students will be able to calculate angles, find missing sides of right triangles using Pythagorean Theorem, graph linear relationships, and construct similar and congruent shapes. This creates a hands-on experience for the students and they will actually be able to construct and solve authentic math problems using their own movements and technology.


In History students are able to study economic, environmental, and social impacts and trends across the world with GIS maps. They will also be able to locate world landmarks using current GIS and GPS technology. Students can reconstruct military movements to study how terrain affected battle. They will better understand the location of certain infrastructure. Students will be able to plot birthplaces of past presidents or other famous individuals and see if there is a correlation between birthplace and influential roles. Students will be able to create their own travel itinerary and calculate distances, travel costs, and fuel efficiency.

In Science students would be able to study topographic maps using GIS. They would construct three-dimensional scale models of local topography. Students will be able to plot points of certain species of plants or animals and compare the locations of them worldwide. Students will be able to use the GPS units to study the relationships between speed, velocity, altitude, and position. Students will be able to learn about angular velocity as part of an advanced study.


In LOTE (Languages Other Than English) students will be able to learn numerical, directional, and geographical terms. Students will create their own trackable item, geocoin, or trade bug that is related to the studied culture. Trackable items are either coins or dog tags that can be logged onto the Geocaching server where the owner can track its movement around the world. The owner may give a goal for the item. The goal may be to travel to non-English speaking countries and travel the world for the student to experience different cultures. Cachers could be requested to share their caching experience in a specific language.

To promote literacy, students will learn to properly read and navigate GPS menus, websites, and maps. Geocaches could be created with literacy themes or challenges, such as asking geocachers for new vocabulary or short geocaching stories when logging their find. GPS and GIS technology would encourage involvement with local government and businesses. Students will be challenged with professional presentations, written reports, and data studies.


Spatial literacy promotes community involvement by inviting the community to join students in a geographical adventure. Students will study the socio-economic impacts of local businesses within the community, according to GIS maps and data. Students will also be able to study and plot previous, current, and future weather patterns such as flood plains. The community will be able to track geocaches created by students to learn about cultures beyond Chemung County. The community will also be impacted from students sharing new data and maps about local weather, traffic patterns, and community growth. Students will be able to create Virtual Caches and Earth Caches to help familiarize the community with local landmarks, history, geography, and natural formations. Virtual and Earth Caches are caches that state the coordinates to discover local history, terrain, and travel.


There are endless possibilities for integrating the Unit Skills of Literacy into GPS and GIS education. ASE classes will allow students the opportunity to explore all facets of GPS. These classes would further the understanding and comprehension of GPS and GIS technology. Students will be privileged to use the newest technology in GPS and learn its advantages. Community members could be invited to share their GPS experiences at work or other areas. We also hope to invite community members into the school for adult education courses to introduce everyone to the expansive possibilities of GPS and GIS.


Listed above are just a few examples of how students will be able to use GIS, GPS, and Geocaching in most subject areas. The mentioned curriculum and content are not nearly all inclusive and the possibilities for this technology in the classroom are endless.

Edited by Sweet33
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You do a good job of listing out the benefits, however, if you are going to present something like this before a school board, you would need to refine this a little bit. First you need to explain the relative advantage, and implementation strategy of how you would implement this technology into the classroom. Next you would need to outline the costs and a projected implementation time line.

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