Adventures in Geocaching
For those that aren’t familiar with the term Geocaching, it basically breaks down like this.
Geo = Earth
Cache = Treasure
In essence, Geocaching is high-tech treasure hunting whereby you search for a hidden item by following latitude and longitude coordinates. Conventionally, geocachers have used GPS Devices to locate treasures but a simple cell phone will do!!!
I stumbled upon this activity several years ago quite accidentally when I was traveling in Alaska (considered a muggle at the time--a non-geocaching native). My husband and I were hiking in the Tongass National Forest in Ketchikan and found a father and his son huddled around a cache in the form of an ammobox hidden in the woods. They were busily recording their visit in a travel log as we spotted them.
Since that time, my Geocaching adventures have led me all throughout my island neighborhood as well as around to world attempting to find hidden treasures with my family. As an educator, I was convinced that there must be some way to implement this exciting and interesting activity in my classroom. I simply knew that the inherent excitement in discovering something hidden would be a natural draw for students.
Geocaching CAN be implemented in the classroom without an exorbitant outlay of money, time or energy. Below are some ideas and suggestions for ways to integrate geocaching into ANY content area’s curriculum
Idea #1: Create a class Travel Bug and deposit it into a local cache. Follow the bug’s journey and map the route.
Idea #2: During a field trip, take a side trip to a nearby cache.
Idea #3: Plant a class cache and watch as visitors log in from all over. Create a map documenting visitors.
Idea #4: Research the history of local landmarks. Create a cache at a location that describes the history of that site.
Idea #5: Investigate and locate Earthcaches
Idea #6: Conduct a GPS Scavenger Hunt or Hide N Seek on your school property
Idea #7: Identify different varieties of trees in a nature preserve (or on your school grounds) and record their coordinates. Then challenge other students to find the trees given specific coordinates.
Idea #8: Create a cultural cache. Fill a cache with items reflecting your region. Encourage visitors to log their reaction/responses to share with your class.
Geocaching can be a wonderful tool to enhance student understanding of geography, location and place, science and nature, scientific inquiry, mathematical concepts, physical education, problem solving, teamwork, critical thinking as well as language arts activities.