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SirDonB

Teaching in General

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Ok, so I am looking into making a class or group of classes for a local group and I need some advice on teaching geocaching to civilians. I spent 6 years in the US Military creating classes and teaching them to my peers. The trouble I am having is trying to make the material interesting enough to keep kids of all ages (from 5-99) from getting bored. You may say, well if you did it in the military, than this should be easy. Well gathering the material is not hard, putting it together in a teachable format is not hard. What is, is presenting it in a fashion to a non-military group in a fun and exciting way. You see, for those who dont know, in the military, if you are told you are going to a instructional class, you go, you dont fall asleep no matter how boring it is, and you pay attention regardless, you have little choice in the matter.

 

I would like to do a whole series on different aspects of geocaching for both geocachers and non geocachers alike. I would like my classes to as fun and interesting as possible. I need you help for ideas on how to do so. I do not teach very often nor am I friends with any teachers to talk to. I am hoping to gain a wide range of ideas from everyone here that can be used so when talking to adults, it does not sound like I am talking to a 5 year old and visa versa, when I am talking to a younger crowd, it does not bore them because it is way over their comprehention level. I want to get to as close to a middle ground as possible. If I must make a differnt course for each group so be it, but I would like to make as little as possible, if possible.

 

Thanks and I look forward to any suggestions you may have.

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The geocaching classes I've been involved with (either teaching or observing/assisting) have started with a "chalk talk" about half an hour long. With adults, this part can be a little longer. With younger kids, it needs to be a little shorter. During the "chalk talk", it helps to have hands-on examples to pass around: example caches, example geocoins and TBs, example trade items, etc. I like to explain GPS coordinates with a globe in hand. If the "chalk talk" is indoors, then I like to explain GPS by hanging colored yarn from the ceiling (representing known distances from "GPS satellites" overhead); then I show that one satellite-distance pair defines a circle, that two define a pair of points where the circles intersect, and that a third defines a single point. This takes just a minute or two if the yarn is set up in advance.

 

Next comes practice finding geocache containers. For a short class, I take them to a nearby spot outdoors where I've hidden a bunch of containers (hopefully at least as many containers as students), and I let them take turns raising their hand and pointing to a container that they've spotted. Some are easy, but a few are well camouflaged.

 

For a long class, you can do the "chalk talk" at the trailhead or at the parking lot near the trailhead, and then match small groups of students with experienced geocachers to go find actual geocaches along the trail. The Santa Clara County Parks District uses an old-school power trail for their classes, so students can find 6 or 8 caches of various sizes and styles and be back at the trailhead by lunchtime.

 

I wouldn't try to take a class with kids to urban/suburban geocaches in the neighborhood of the class. Even if I trust all the kids in the class, I don't necessarily trust their friends and classmates who hear about hidden "treasure boxes" in the neighborhood. I take them on a hike at a park some distance away.

 

And even if you teach them about trackables, it helps to have an experienced geocacher with them when they find actual caches. In the excitement of trading for fun toys and pretty medallions, some of them will forget everything you said about Travel Bugs and geocoins.

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Thank you for the suggestions, I especially like the idea about using colored yard to represent the signal from the satellites. Not that long ago, I talked to the senior citizens at my job about geocaching and had a fake rock I used as a visual to explain hiding containers and how they can look like anything.

 

I definitely agree that though some kids may be trustworthy, they may have friends that may not be. I think for the purpose of a class, I would be more apt to hide some temp caches on or very near the place I am teaching at and leave the real geocaches alone. I personally would feel better not to place the real caches in harms way until it is known that any of the kids are serious about caching.

 

As to the trackables, keeping in mind what you said, they would be touched on, and maybe be a separate course all to themselves to be talked about on a later date.

 

niraD, thank you for all the great suggestions you gave, I will be employing any number of them depending on the age group or knowledge level of the specific group I am presenting in front of. The more I think about it, the more I am thinking that there may not be one middle of the road blanket way to creating a course. I am thinking I will have to create more than one course generally tailored to an age group, then use some techniques to hone in on that day and group.

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I'm looking to hold a general geocaching 101 class and was wondering if anyone had a good power point presentation I could get?

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