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Suggestions for on-site things to do?


Narnian Rockhound
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We're all aware that ECs must require cachers to answer questions that can only be answered at the EC site, questions that are educational in nature & relate to the Earth science evidence at hand. I know many find it difficult to come up with logging requirements that are interesting, related to the site, etc.; at times I also have to rack my brain to get the creative juices flowing, and in a case I describe below I've hit a brick wall. Plus, the activities have to be doable with very little geologic knowledge. So, I thought perhaps we could give one another thoughts in this regard that might help spark some ideas.

 

Some tasks I've asked people to do in my ECs:

1) use a protractor to measure the angle of a plane from horizontal.

2) count the number of layers of a rock feature

3) estimate the length of a geologic feature

4) estimate the height of a package of rocks

5) prod at some "rocks" with a knife to see which ones are rotten & weathered

 

I've got a great location in mind for another EC where there is a gorgeous black & white gneiss*. There isn't much I can think of to have folks do at the site - I can't think of anything to measure or estimate or whatever. The site is also the location of a nice waterfall, which is pretty & all, but I want to bring people there to learn about the rocks... and there are a million waterfall ECs out there.

 

So... what have you all asked people to do? What requirements have you seen out there that you thought were really good ones? Any suggestions for a spectacular gneiss location?

 

*For those who don't know, a gneiss is a high-grade (i.e., was really hot & deep in the crust) metamorphic rock that has layers of alternating minerals/colors, often black & white.

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We're all aware that ECs must require cachers to answer questions that can only be answered at the EC site, questions that are educational in nature & relate to the Earth science evidence at hand. I know many find it difficult to come up with logging requirements that are interesting, related to the site, etc.; at times I also have to rack my brain to get the creative juices flowing, and in a case I describe below I've hit a brick wall. Plus, the activities have to be doable with very little geologic knowledge. So, I thought perhaps we could give one another thoughts in this regard that might help spark some ideas.

 

Some tasks I've asked people to do in my ECs:

1) use a protractor to measure the angle of a plane from horizontal.

2) count the number of layers of a rock feature

3) estimate the length of a geologic feature

4) estimate the height of a package of rocks

5) prod at some "rocks" with a knife to see which ones are rotten & weathered

 

I've got a great location in mind for another EC where there is a gorgeous black & white gneiss*. There isn't much I can think of to have folks do at the site - I can't think of anything to measure or estimate or whatever. The site is also the location of a nice waterfall, which is pretty & all, but I want to bring people there to learn about the rocks... and there are a million waterfall ECs out there.

 

So... what have you all asked people to do? What requirements have you seen out there that you thought were really good ones? Any suggestions for a spectacular gneiss location?

 

*For those who don't know, a gneiss is a high-grade (i.e., was really hot & deep in the crust) metamorphic rock that has layers of alternating minerals/colors, often black & white.

I've never created one, but I look for things like this in formations. These might sound silly, but I have kids, so I think that way.

Ask what the predominant color is (it might appear more white or more black or more pink, etc)

If it has a distinctive pattern, ask what the pattern reminds them of.

If it has a fold or shift, ask them if the fold points up or down, or which half of the shift is higher.

If it has any unusual extra color or flecking, ask about that, and if they see the same color anywhere else

Ask them to measure something by hands (closed hand) and how many hands tall it is.

Ask them what the rock feels like (sandpaper, smooth, bumpy)

Measure the widest band.

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This has been one of my biggest hangups about creating an Earthcache. I want mine to be cool, but I'm not creative with questions. My biggest thing is that I dislike judging sizes and distances. For one thing, I'm not good at it. For another, a lot of the estimates can be done with either maps, or looking at other people's photos. I especially don't want any questions that can be answered by looking through the photo gallery.

 

So, that pretty much cuts out most things to ask for - estimates, questions about features. If there's nothing that can be measured, and the area is sensitive and you can't mess with it, what do you have people do? :(

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Perhaps you could combine the EarthCache into one about the waterfall and the gneiss. You could bring them to your spectacular example of gneiss and get them to examine it and learn what features about it help geologists to identify it as gneiss. Then perhaps you could take them to the waterfall and ask them if the rock that the waterfall cuts through is also gneiss, based on what they have learned at stage 1, or some different type of rock. Of course, it's always helpful to ask them to give reasons why they decide one way or the other so that it's not just a 50/50 guess.

 

Are there other outcrops of gneiss in the area? If so, you could have them examine the sample and waypoint one, and then give them 3 other waypoints to visit to see if they can identify which of those locations also shows an exposure of gneiss.

 

Are there examples of sedimentary layers in the area? You could have them examine the gneiss and the sedementary layers and describe differences between the "layering" that appears in each rock type and think about why those differences would occur.

 

junglehair

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We're all aware that ECs must require cachers to answer questions that can only be answered at the EC site, questions that are educational in nature & relate to the Earth science evidence at hand. I know many find it difficult to come up with logging requirements that are interesting, related to the site, etc.; at times I also have to rack my brain to get the creative juices flowing, and in a case I describe below I've hit a brick wall. Plus, the activities have to be doable with very little geologic knowledge. So, I thought perhaps we could give one another thoughts in this regard that might help spark some ideas.

 

Some tasks I've asked people to do in my ECs:

1) use a protractor to measure the angle of a plane from horizontal.

2) count the number of layers of a rock feature

3) estimate the length of a geologic feature

4) estimate the height of a package of rocks

5) prod at some "rocks" with a knife to see which ones are rotten & weathered

 

I've got a great location in mind for another EC where there is a gorgeous black & white gneiss*. There isn't much I can think of to have folks do at the site - I can't think of anything to measure or estimate or whatever. The site is also the location of a nice waterfall, which is pretty & all, but I want to bring people there to learn about the rocks... and there are a million waterfall ECs out there.

 

So... what have you all asked people to do? What requirements have you seen out there that you thought were really good ones? Any suggestions for a spectacular gneiss location?

 

*For those who don't know, a gneiss is a high-grade (i.e., was really hot & deep in the crust) metamorphic rock that has layers of alternating minerals/colors, often black & white.

All excellent approaches. Perhaps other experienced geologists will add to the list.

Thanks. :)

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I really like JungleHair's suggestion of "ask them to give reasons why they decide one way or the other so that it's not just a 50/50 guess." Open-ended questions can at times be even better than "closed" questions. Even without a "correct" or very specific answer, if a finder explains their reasoning based on observations made at the location, that can both get them thinking about geology and help show that they were actually there.

 

Are there any patterns, fabric, shearing, etc. visible in the gneiss that might lend itself well to questions that ask a finder to interpret the direction of forces, even just locally? Even if directionality is not entirely clear, you may be able to draw some interesting observations out of the finders--at least enough to educate them about how rocks are analyzed in the field.

 

I also think this approach is good: "I want to bring people there to learn about the rocks... and there are a million waterfall ECs out there." This would be the best of two worlds -- giving people a more unique EC/educational experience (gneiss), while also bringing them to a nice waterfall as a bonus. And if the gneiss can be connected geologically to the waterfall in some fashion, then that would be fantastic!

Edited by geoawareHQ
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Thanks for the hints & suggestions from everyone! Let's keep them coming.

 

What's the most interesting logging requirement you've found in ECs you've visited?

 

I liked one from GC1Y4E8 LaSalle Canyon, located here in Illinois. Requirement 3 asks the cacher to use his/her GPSr to measure the length of the canyon from one point on a bridge near the mouth of the stream, all the way back up into the canyon where there is a really nice waterfall. A good use of GPS technology.

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I really like JungleHair's suggestion of "ask them to give reasons why they decide one way or the other so that it's not just a 50/50 guess." Open-ended questions can at times be even better than "closed" questions. Even without a "correct" or very specific answer, if a finder explains their reasoning based on observations made at the location, that can both get them thinking about geology and help show that they were actually there.

 

Are there any patterns, fabric, shearing, etc. visible in the gneiss that might lend itself well to questions that ask a finder to interpret the direction of forces, even just locally? Even if directionality is not entirely clear, you may be able to draw some interesting observations out of the finders--at least enough to educate them about how rocks are analyzed in the field.

 

I also like JungleHair's suggestion and also in general the type of questions that motivate the visitor of an Earthcache to reflect about what it is to be seen at the EC location. Unfortunately, in my country ECs with automatic e-mail responders are so popular and often the main goal of setting up the questions is not the learning process, but the simplicity and uniqueness of the answers in order to be able to translate the answers to a unique e-mail address. Some EC creators started off with questions where this automatic response is not possible and then got under pressure by impatient loggers who wish to receive the answer within seconds (they do not want to wait with logging and do not want to change the order of their logs) and then switched to new questions.

 

 

Cezanne

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I also like JungleHair's suggestion and also in general the type of questions that motivate the visitor of an Earthcache to reflect about what it is to be seen at the EC location. Unfortunately, in my country ECs with automatic e-mail responders are so popular and often the main goal of setting up the questions is not the learning process, but the simplicity and uniqueness of the answers in order to be able to translate the answers to a unique e-mail address. Some EC creators started off with questions where this automatic response is not possible and then got under pressure by impatient loggers who wish to receive the answer within seconds (they do not want to wait with logging and do not want to change the order of their logs) and then switched to new questions.

Really? Can someone link me to the appropriate section of the EarthCache or Geocaching guidelines that explains one has to wait for an affirmative response from the cache owner before they can log their found? Not being able to log a found until receiving a cache owner's response sounds like an additional logging requirement (ALR) to me.
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If you are serious: You do have to fulfill the cache requirements and the cache owner is the one that will gauge whether or not you have, so this isn't an ALR, it is how we get the smiley (without fear of deletion).

 

If you are kidding: lol.

100% serious. I'm very familiar with the EarthCache and Geocaching guidelines as well as the Knowledge Books content. I can't find a section in any of those resources where it says one has to wait for e-mail confirmation of one's answers for an EarthCache (or a virtual cache, for that matter), before one can log a smiley.

 

I log my find, send the required information in an e-mail to the cache owner, and get on with logging/life. Sometimes, the cache owner and I will swap subsequent e-mails if the answer(s) isn't quite what s/he is looking for and I make the necessary corrections. Most of the time, I don't receive a good/bad/indifferent response from the cache owner, so I'd would be waiting a lonnnngggg time before I could log my find. I've never had a find deleted following that process.

Edited by Ladybug Kids
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Having read through the EC Guidelines, FAQ and Knowledge Book, as far as I can tell, there is nothing that states that you have to wait for approval from the EC CO before logging your visit. However in order to log a visit to the EC, you do have to carry out the logging requirements which are to be verified by the EC CO. As you know, it is the responsibility of each EC CO to ensure that their logging requirements have been met. As an EC CO myself, if someone doesn't answer my questions correctly, I will work with them to see if they can come up with the answers. I don't have a problem with someone logging their visit without waiting to hear from me about their answers. Sometimes they want to log as soon as they get back home when their visit is still fresh in their mind. I would think those logs tend to be better than ones that are a day or more older. But that's just my opinion.

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I also like JungleHair's suggestion and also in general the type of questions that motivate the visitor of an Earthcache to reflect about what it is to be seen at the EC location. Unfortunately, in my country ECs with automatic e-mail responders are so popular and often the main goal of setting up the questions is not the learning process, but the simplicity and uniqueness of the answers in order to be able to translate the answers to a unique e-mail address. Some EC creators started off with questions where this automatic response is not possible and then got under pressure by impatient loggers who wish to receive the answer within seconds (they do not want to wait with logging and do not want to change the order of their logs) and then switched to new questions.

Really? Can someone link me to the appropriate section of the EarthCache or Geocaching guidelines that explains one has to wait for an affirmative response from the cache owner before they can log their found? Not being able to log a found until receiving a cache owner's response sounds like an additional logging requirement (ALR) to me.

 

I can only tell you that statements of that type are part of the vst majority of ECs in my area and that all get published (this has been the case before the introduction of the German EC reviewers and is still the case). Some owners of ECs even object against the approach of posting a note first and later on changing the not to a find log when the reply has been obtained (they argue that it causes too much work to check the cache page because when the log type is changed the owner of the cache does not get a notification).

 

 

Cezanne

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As an EarthCache owner, I really prefer when someone sends me an email and immediately logs the EarthCache as found. That way I get the two emails together and can file them and forget about it after I email to confirm their answers. When they log the find several days after they have emailed me, then I don't usually remember getting their email. I have to go through my records to see if they sent in the answers yet or not.

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