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What SHOULD kids learn?

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I'm piloting a summer school class called Geocaching. Got a grant to buy 12 etrex units and got a computer lab with internet access. 13 kids signed up. Any ideas about what you think SHOULD be tought. Also any ideas about the hows? Got 3 weeks, 4 days a week from 9-noon. Thanks for the input. GeoVet

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It depends mostly on how old these kids are,to teach it in a way that they can understand..

So,I wish to know,How old?(about)



Did you say you want to go on ANOTHER geocacheing trip?


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A good question. I am a recently elected school board member and think highly of exposing young students to technology such as GPSrs.


Here are some key points you might want to incorporate into your learning plan. The concepts of:


coordinate systems


how these relate to maps (locate your current location on a map)

magnetic, grid (map), and true north

compass fundamentals

the elements of the GPS system



respect for nature

cache in, trash out

fundamentals of caching & using the unit


The detail to which you would address the above listed items depends on the age and aptitude of your students.


Be sure to issue each of the students a congratulatory certificate recognizing his/her first find.


I'd be glad to help out in any way I could.


I'd also be interested in the details of your grant. Our K through 8 would benefit from something like this.



"I've never been lost, but I was a might bewildered for three days once." - Daniel Boone

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I, too, am interested in the details of the grant you received... I am trying to get a ham radio club started at my school and thinking maybe I can somehow combine the two hobbies - and show the kids Geocaching, APRS, etc.


How old are the kids? I teach high school. With all the pressure and accountability we feel with state-mandated testing, I would want to actually work in some math and earth science.


You could definitely tie it loosely into the Cartesian coordinate system and show them the that there is more to it than y = mx + b form!! All these years and *gasp!* math has a practical application!!


For more upper-level students, lattitude and longitude is the ultimate example of the spherical coordinate system. Now it isn't just some garbage in a textbook! How about your GPS dies? Can you use a compass and the Law of Sines or Cosines to triangulate your position on a map?


Jeez - now I'm all worked up - I need to get something going at my school...


Let us know about that grant!!


Have a great long weekend!!


-- Scott

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Thery're (gulp) middle schoolers, and most have just had my geography class as 7th graders so they know global grid, mapping, ecology, blah blah blah. The grant is called the 21st Century Grant and our district got it a year or so ago. It was a very LARGE grant; they're looking for ways to incorporate technology into the community schools. Now they're looking for ways to spend it. Tah dah . . . It seemed tailor made for a geocaching class. I put together a little powerpoint for the administrator of the grant and he bit hook line and sinker. Thanks for the input. Keep it comin'!

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I have a theory that there is a special place in heaven reserved for middle school teachers. I teach mostly juniors and seniors - when they start to act a little more like human beings again...


Best of luck with the program! I will look into the grant.


-- Scott

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How about some inquiry-based learning? Be forewarned, I don't know the answers to any of these questions!

1) What are the demographics of geocaching? i.e. by using the geocache map for your or any other state, does there seem to be a pattern to the density of the placement of caches?

2) What factors might cause this density?

3) Is there a variation in apparent accuracy of the GPS units you ordered?

4) How can we determine a "working accuracy" for the GPS units our class uses?

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I am giving a persuasive talk to a school administrator tomorrow... I would love to see your power point you showed your administrator. I teach GT (gifted and talented) elementary kids. I think they would love geocaching, I know my kids at home do. I am going to look into that grant too. thanks for the great thread...

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To 6thforever; Thanks for the inquiry based lead. Maybe for the 3rd week. 1st I have to familiarize them with the GPSr, the website and the game. Time is short. (I didn't recognize your unit patch. I was 101st ABN, 326th Med Bn. and watched the fall of Saigon from the USS Midway) Thanks again.

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Where to begin?!?!?

The ol' GPS is a great tool but needs an applied context to be more that just a cool toy. In the state of Washington we have a program known as Nature Mapping. The short of it is, an attempt to build a state wide database of vertebrate wildlife focusing on three concepts. 1 - What species do you see? 2- Where was it located? and 3 What habitat was it found in? We use UTM coordinates for the WHERE question. (I only use Lat/Lon if I'm up for some self abuse!)This requires getting the kids out and doing some observations in the field so we generaly make a run to one of our natural areas and I run them for a couple of miles all the while locating species (mostly birds) and collecting points of the walk itself to be mapped when we return to the classroom. We develop scales, calculate the hypotenuse for the right triangles made from the points we've collected, determine distances and plot them on topographic maps.(UTM 1000M grid transparencies can be made with a copy machine) It does appear that WI does have a fledgling Nature Mapping program but even without it the habitat coding, location and species ID can be used to build a database for your local school area or community. I know of 3rd & 4th graders that are using the program. Using UTM (NAD27 datum for USGS 7.5 min. maps) is much simpler and looks much like the coordinate sytems they've used before in school so they take to it like proverbial ducks to water. I use <www.topozone.com> and a printer that will print 11 x 17" topo maps of the areas we visit. See <www.fish.washington.edu/naturemapping/> for an overview and links to and contact persons in WI. I've also had my kids involved in a state wildlife research project that is doing a 5-10 year study of Mule deer populations in central and eastern WA. During last years captures new collars were installed that contain GPS units so four hour by seven day point data can be collected and downloaded.(i.e. where was this animal every 4 hours for the last week)The states lead biologist on this project has given this data for us to use. (This guy is a peach!)You can plot it on maps, establish home ranges, etc. Contact your state's Dept of Fish & Wildlife. To take you district to the ultimate technology (of which your GPS plays a part), start exploring GIS. ESRI is the primary leader in the field and ARCVIEW is their software.

Other fun things, try a scavenger hunt in the field(takes some prep work and a few volenteers),collect points and map a trail at a local park or natural area. Just make sure they have fun and have NO clue that they're learning! Enjoy! beiberd

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Beiberd, Although a relative newbie, you speak my language (geography). Thanks for the well informed response. It sounds as if you have a self-contained, elementary classroom or possibly block-scheduling. I have neither. I have students for 45 minute periods. But this summer I'm starting this class (3hours/day/12 days) and it will be all I can do to teach them how to use the GPSr, how to use the website, hide a cache & log it and find about 8 - 10 caches. In THAT context I asked the question, "What should kids learn?" You replied with a whole Esri-inspired curriculum guide. Thanks.

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wow, thats awsome! I wish someone would do that near me! You may (if you want to get away from gps a little) want to teach them about topo's and regular compasses(yeah those things that dont use batteries). I know how and its cool to be able to go out with just a map and know what your doing

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In addition to the basics suggested in the above posts you could have a them put together a project cache and hide it as a class. Have each student place an item in the cache and have them choose a good hiding place, first on a map, then in the feild.


I am thinking of offering a similar class through the charter school my daughter is enrolled in.


Be sure to cover basic survival skills as well. It is a shame how many kids dont know what to do when they get lost in the woods.



I have never been lost. Been awful confused for a few days, but never lost!

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Bilder; Yup, we're going to hide one early in week 2 (of this 3 week class) so the kids can see how that part of the game works. In our area, a new cache takes a day or two to get found by the first finder. I want the kids to be able to see how many people actively seek caches in this cache-starved part of the state. And it's fun! Let me know how it goes with the charter school & we can swap notes.

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I'm a teacher at a small school in Washington State. I've been asked to do a presentation on geocaching at the Washington State Council for the Social Studies on Sept. 11. I'm hoping to find some folks who are very experienced with caching (as I know you to be) who can give me suggestions for my presentation.


I use geocaching in my classoom by: maintaining a site and tracking visitors, following travel bugs, and occasionally taking students on a hunt for caches. My purpose has simply been for students to become proficient at using latitute & longitude cooridinates, to become familiar with various place names (especially in Washington) and to have a lot of fun.


I've already got some great ideas from the board here.


I've presented to teachers twice before and they always head out to purchase GPS receivers afterwards. This sport is contagious!


I am hoping to find someone who will "loan" me a collection of GPS navigators so I can take my class of teachers on a hunt and have them all get to "hold the thingy" as they say. icon_smile.gif


Thanks in advance for ideas!

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