Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Gone Treasure Hunting!

I attended a preconference session at the Upstate Technology Conference 2009 called Hide and Seek 2.0. I was going to learn how to use my GPS to go geocaching! I have heard so much about this on the internet and from many friends who do this. Of course, I didn’t want to sound ignorant, so I just nodded and smiled each time this was brought up. When I saw this on the preconference schedule, I just had to sign up. Now was my chance!

According to the website, “Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online. Geocaching is enjoyed by people from all age groups, with a strong sense of community and support for the environment.”

When I entered the room, I saw my friend Chris Craft waiting for the session to start. I find it interesting that I didn’t know anyone else in the room, except someone who didn’t even teach in the same district that I had taught. I have talked to Chris online and met him last year at this conference. It was nice being in a class with someone I knew so I can imagine how my students feel when they enter new situations.

We carpooled to different locations and were given a handout with specific coordinates to find the treasures. These coordinates were found on the website. You can put in the zip code of the area or look at a Google map in the area you want to look and find different geocaches in that vicinity. We matched the coordinates on our GPS to the one on the handout. Then we had to look for the treasure. It was great to find the three geocaches that we looked for. Chris bought the app for his iphone and was able to log in that he found the cache.

I think this would be so much fun to do with students. It requires the students to use many different skills and still can be fun. Since it involves a lot of movement, I could see lower level students being more involved or even excelling in this activity. I think pairing up students at first would really help them as they learn how to do this. Eventually they could work individually if there are enough GPS units to go around. I would also recommend that the teacher finds the cache first before attempting to have students do this. This is important in case students get frustrated, the teacher can help guide and encourage them in order to be successful.

I think it would be fun to plant caches around the school campus and have students find them. Just like the TV show Amazing Race, the students could be given a clue to the general area of the next clue. The final location could be the cache and the first one to find it could pick their choice of prizes. As each one finds it, they could pick a prize and it would continue until the last one finds it. Everyone would get a prize.

I really think learning geocaching would be a successful activity for students. You can adapt the lessons according to their age levels or abilities. I also think it would be fun to see their faces light up when they find what they are looking for (I know the adults in this session were very excited when they were successful!)


Sherri Due said...

This is an interesting activity that I looked into once because I teach geography and math and wanted to combine the some cross-curricular activities. I stumbled on Letterboxing (you can google this, too). It's a form of geocaching where you use a compass to find a box containing a stamp and logbook. I'm sure you can combine the GPS of geocaching and the compass, stamps and logbook idea from letterboxing for great activities for kids. I thought of using math problems that kids solve and the answers leads them to a box. Check out letterboxing since you've explored's great fun!

M-Dawg said...

This sounds so exciting fun! And, what a great way to teach!

How did you find out about the workshop?

loonyhiker said...

@SherriDue Thanks for telling me about letterboxing. I will check it out!

loonyhiker said...

@M-Dawg it was a preconference session before the Upstate Technology Conference. I just happened to be lucky enough to see it being offered.