So...want to take your students on a secret agent hunt? Why not use a cypher or code wheel to have them decode messages they find in caches. You could even create a vocabulary hunt where they find the encrypted definition of a word, then crack the code and solve for the meaning of the word!
Click below for a downloadable PDF of a geocaching mystery wheel from
Anyone who has tried to show students how to use a GPS receiver before going into the field knows that there are certain things you must go over with them if they are to be successful. For example, if your receivers do not have a built-in electronic compass (which most affordable models do NOT), then you must tell them that they have to keep moving in order for the arrow pointer to continue pointing in the right direction. There are so many other things that can lead to student frustration quickly and, ultimately, lead away from the point of the lesson.
Take it from me, a teacher in the trenches who has seen Murphy's Law in effect on more than one occasion while teaching GPS to students: Try guiding them step-by-step, in a constructivist approach, and build upon basic skills. Do this while hunting for something very simple, like golf balls or tennis balls...easy to hide and not too difficult to find. Create an instruction sheet with an explanation of the receiver's main buttons, functions, and screens, as well as helpful tips. Below is a link to a document I made using the Garmin GPS60 receiver. Use it as a template for the receivers you use in order to make your GPS receivers more user-friendly to your students. Below that, is another great resource called Geocaching Cheat Sheets featured on http://issuu.com/lcisdtech.
It's difficult to describe what GPS looks like in the realm of education without first KNOWING what geocaching is. Geocaching has been described many ways, but I like to refer to one definition I heard: "...using muti-million dollar satellites to locate Tupperware in the woods." Geocaching, rooted in the grand state of Oregon just at the turn of the century, is a high-tech treasure hunt using GPS devices to look for hidden "caches" all over the world.
So...if you haven't tried this out yet...what are you waiting for?! Sign up for a free account and begin geocaching. As an educator, you will immediately see the implications for students. The potential for educational activities developed around a hunt for learning is immense. Search the wealth of geocaches around the world to get a taste of how some amazing educators are setting up learning hunts for anyone to try and conquer.