Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Geocaching and Education, part 1

This is the first post in a series of free resources for educators interested in using geocaching in education and other community groups like scouts or camps. The material is pulled directly from Educaching GPS Based Curriculum for Teachers. If interested in more resources, check out

Jason Hubbard, Author

What is Educaching?
Educaching could be described as a mixture of Hide and Seek, treasure hunting, and learning all wrapped up into one experience. When you were younger and you used to play Hide and Seek, there was a thrill involved with finding other children who were hidden in secret spots and the victory won when you “spotted” them. And who of us has never had thoughts of finding “buried treasure” or finding the “X” that marks the spot? There is also a fascination, especially among children, with gadgets, gizmos, and technological wonders of our day and age, in which young people are the chief users. In many cases they can run circles around their parents and teachers in regard to the use of technologies available to us today. 
So, why not place this technology into their hands, give them a few clues to go find hidden “treasure” with it, and use these methods as a vehicle to teach your lessons and curriculum? Interested? This is what I call Educaching!
The students actually seek knowledge. They are responsible for probing and discovering what they must know. It is an incredible responsibility that is incredibly fun! Here’s a quick rundown of how it all works. You take some math problems, or a piece of historical knowledge, or a science experiment, and you hide these things somewhere on the school grounds outdoors (GPS does not work indoors…yet). Then, you use a GPS receiver to obtain signals from the satellites to give you the exact locations of the objects you have hidden. You save these locations as “waypoints,” which can be stored in your receiver’s memory. Next, you give the students the waypoints, along with a map and a GPS receiver and have them go out into the school yard and find what is hidden. When they find these objects, a.k.a. an Educache, they have a job to do. For example, they must collect data, take measurements, solve a problem, perform an experiment, or take a picture.  When the hunt is over, the students return with you indoors to discuss their discoveries, complete assessments, and extend their learning further through projects and presentations. Sound difficult? It isn’t, once you familiarize yourself with the GPS receiver and follow the instructions within this manual. You’ll be preparing your first Educaching hunt for your students in no time!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Common Core Math...What do you think?

You'd probably be living in a cave if you're in math education and have not perused the Common Core. These standards open new pathways within our grade levels and bring new challenges. As we see the future path of our teaching unfold with these standards, is there room for educaching? I say there's always room for it! Let's start the discussion here. How do you see these ideas take shape in a GPS adventure with your class?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Crime Scene Investigator...Educaching style!

The great folks at put together a Learning with GPS section. Among many great tried and true lesson plans, there is one on investigation called CSI Adventure. Using the premise of geocaching already ties in the unique nature of hunting for learning, so this lesson creates a perfect marriage of students becoming real detectives as they actually search for clues. The lesson and clue cards are presented below or you can visit the link above to find the documents separately, along with a helpful power point file.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What makes a great hiding spot?

Can you say...Easter Egg Hunt? Growing up, I remember running around my church's yard in my Easter suit searching high and low with the other church kids finding those great candy-filled plastic eggs. What a great time! Were the eggs difficult to find? Not too bad, considering they were brightly-colored and within my childish reach.

An Easter egg hunt is what we should consider when looking for great hiding spots in the school yard. Remember that eye-level and below is key. Anything higher than your students' eye-level might be out of your shortest student's reach. Plant life can make great hiding spots. For example, mulch beds, shrubs, right around the roots of trees but covered a little by grass clippings or pieces of bark can hide smaller caches. Many trees have notches, holes, large roots among which caches can become more camouflaged. If you find a good spot up in a tree, use it, but be sure it's not so high that a child might be tempted to "go ape."
If you have a school yard which is bereft of natural plant life, perhaps there are metallic structures that may be used. Cache containers equipped with magnetic strips on them can be attached to fencing, poles, signs, and other metal school structures and still remain hidden.

Finally, care should be taken to carefully camouflage your containers. A roll of camo duct tape can be purchased from WalMart or other similar store for around $2-3. This can be wrapped around film canisters and other plastic containers. For a little more moola (around $5 per can), brown or green spray paint can be purchased to coat all your containers. Camouflage colors are available at similar stores. For years, I have used 2 cans (1 brown, 1 OD green) and used both to give my containers a nice camo look. Some geocachers have used hide-a-key rocks for tricky cache containers, among many other great ideas. I heard from a teacher years ago who glues grass clippings to the top of Altoid cases and those old floppy disk cases and hides these containers in the middle of an open field! The possibilities are only limited by your imagination and your students will appreciate your creative hides. Feel free to leave a comment with your great ideas to add!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Rainy Day Blues? Part 2...Mathcaching

If you missed the first part of this post, you can find it here. Sometimes, you have this tremendously awesome lesson planned to take your students outside educaching and you've prepared several hours, when all of a sudden, the storm clouds roll in. You need to have a backup activity in mind. If you are a math teacher of 5th grade or higher, I recommend Mathcaching! The folks at have put together some excellent resources here.

The way mathcaching works is, you visit a web page called Box 1. There are 3 math problems to solve here. You then use the correct answers to help navigate to a web page called Box 2. The correct answers to this next set of problems will lead you to the next cache page and so on. This is just like finding virtual caches online. It works similar to a puzzle cache on This activity is a lot of fun. The problems are challenging, and your students will work hard to find the correct answers and will check their work if they get a bum link.

If you have laptops, ipads, ipods or school desktop computers to use with students, you might want to pair them up for this hour (+)  activity. It can be split over several class periods or when you have a spare 10 or 15 minutes. If you have a teacher computer and are able to project the website to your classroom, then this also makes a great whole class activity. I highly recommend visiting here to try out the basic mathcaching hunt on your own first before using it with students. I think you'll be impressed and you may have one more great tool in your arsenal of inclement weather activities!

Happy Hunting!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Educaching hits Philly!

What an exciting time we had at the ISTE 2011 Conference! I had the privilege to work with a tremendous group of educators from all over the world. The session was called Digital Pirates, which is one I have taught before, but this was a 3 hour, hands-on workshop. We used this longer chunk of time to go find geocaches in downtown Philadelphia. This was exciting, because it gave everyone the opportunity to fully understand the reason why students would love using GPS in education. If you are an instructor or educator who teaches other adults about GPS in education, I highly recommend conducting a workshop of at least 3 hours! Do not worry about filling the goes too quickly. Contact me if you need materials or support, or just browse this blog for ideas and resources. The pictures below show the ISTE educators on their geocaching hunt.

 The Black Sculpture (GC2572H)...Scarecrow from Wizard of Oz, anyone? A tiny nanocache was hidden on this piece of art.

This cache under the stairs was no match for our team! Love Me, Love Me (GC2W856) was the name of this tricky microcache.

 We used the Geomate.jr receivers...satellite reception was a challenge due to the skyscrapers, but it didn't stop us from a successful treasure hunt!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Promoting Inquiry in the Gifted Classroom...

The article below is fantastic proof for using GPS and GIS in education, and not just for the gifted classroom! Another article that is well worth the time is cited below:

Broda, H. W., et. al., Using GIS and GPS Technology as an Instructional Tool. The Social Studies (Washington, D.C.) v. 94 no. 4 (July/August 2003) p. 158-60.

Both articles have been extremely influential in my research of using GPS with students. Any teacher wishing to pursue this the same and need a rationale and/or purpose for doing so should read these articles by Shaunessy and Broda. The case for using GPS and GIS (geographic information system) and the benefit of using them with students is plainly stated. Not only are these systems described in detail, but ideas and activities are presented as to their application in education. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Geomate.jr Resources

The Geomate.jr GPS receiver from Apisphere is a cost-effective, user friendly unit to use with students of all ages. It is just one possibility for the Educaching teacher. Below are some resources to get started using your Geomate receiver with your students. Visit to see these devices combined with a unique curriculum that transforms education into an outdoor learning experience. Kits of all sizes and needs are provided. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Personal Story

Hide and Seek!
Jason Hubbard
Woodland Elementary
Perrysburg, Ohio
Alone in the woods with only my handheld GPS device and millions of dollars worth of satellites to help me navigate, I was looking for a small container hidden off the beaten path. Elated with joy, I finally found my tiny canister containing a clue that would prompt me to solve a simple math problem. As I excitedly fumbled with my pen and a scrap of paper to evaluate a numerical expression, I double checked my calculations and was on my way to find the final hidden prize! For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, geocaching is an outdoor adventure that utilizes GPS technology to take people on high-tech scavenger hunts for hidden caches. Now, imagine using this concept to take students beyond the four walls of the classroom on engaging hunts centered around their learning and you’ve got what I call educaching!
I realized that a unique hook for learning could be found in educaching. I began, a la “cart before the horse,” by writing a teacher’s manual to help myself and other teachers who wanted to implement this strategy from the ground up and began using my own students as guinea pigs to pilot test the program and see if it had worth. The first year, I started a GPS-based after school club with 5th graders. To my surprise, half of the 5th grade showed up and I found myself in charge of 43 students (and quickly scrambling for parent volunteers!). The students simply wanted to use the technology to search for things I had hidden on the school campus. They enjoyed the thrill of seeking for something hidden. Imagine...students being thrilled to learn and wishing they could stay at school longer in order to do so...this is what happens through the vehicle of educaching.
The concept is simple: I arm groups of students with a handheld GPS and take them outdoors where I have pre-arranged clues in hidden containers. Each group begins searching for an assigned container which holds a math problem, for example. If the problem is solved correctly by the team, the answer tells them which numbered container to find next and they’re off running to the next location using their GPS device.  If they answer incorrectly, they clamor to correct their work in order to find the right solution. Another type of learning in this context can be pictured in a lesson I call “Grand Slam.” In this lesson, the students are teamed up and take turns kicking a kickball from home base. The total distance of each kick is measured by the students with the GPS device. They then calculate the mean, median, mode, and range of their personal kicks and compare with kicks of their classmates. It ends up being an exciting lesson that allows them to directly participate in their learning with their own data. When doing these kinds of educaching lessons, the students don’t even realize that they are using problem-solving skills, team collaboration, science, mathematics, language arts, and good communication all wrapped up into one exciting experience.
After GPS club and using this curriculum periodically throughout the school years with my students to engage them in lessons, I also studied educaching in my action research concerning the effects on motivation of today’s learners by using GPS in education. The results of the research are undeniable...providing students with this technology, cultivating outdoor learning environments, and providing a framework similar to “The Great Race” is a formula for success when it comes to student engagement. I can’t wait to see what happens next! I have plans to guide my students to create an outdoor educaching park adjacent to our school’s campus. The hunts will be completely student-created and maintained and would center on learning mathematics, science, and local history. This will also connect my 5th graders with their community as they would be creating an educational environment that everyone can utilize: from homeschoolers, to scouts, to youth groups, to neighbors...the possibilities are endless and the well of excitement is overflowing. Let the hunt for learning begin!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Math ideas run rampant with GPS in education! One helpful resource I've found is the edublog here, but it is currently down for repair. Below are some ideas gleaned from this site:

• Calculate the perimeter or area of your school or other large area - you could
even use the area calculation to estimate the volume of water that hits that area
during a 1" rainstorm!

• Calculate the slope of a hill, using the trip information page. It will show you
how far you have walked, and you can note the change in elevation. After that, let the power of the Pythagorean
Theorem guide you!

• Magic of Nine (GCGJPT) Geocache
Through some mathematical trick, the
procedure outlined in the cache
description will give correct
coordinates, even thgough the input
numbers could be different. Can
anyone explain to me how this one

• Create a path, and at each turn, tell
your partner the angle to measure to
make the next turn. Could each
member of the team retrace the
correct path?

• Create a multi-cache, and require
students to do different math functions
or problems to come up with the
correct numbers for the next location.
• Have students walk and plot on the
map the endpoints of a given shape
(triangle, rhombus, parallelogram,
circle, etc.) and see their results. (My
addition - using Google Earth, plot the
coordinates and enter them into the
GPS units. Have students go from
point to point and see how the shape
that they walked compares to the
shape that they plotted.)

• Calculate the distance between 2
points, then calculate the legs using
Pythagoreans Theorem

• Calculate the height of an object

• Calculate or find the elevations of
different points and graph those

• Area: Have students go outside and
step off an area, graph it, and find the
area. Use the GPS to walk the same
area to see how close you
were with the first estimate.

• (Elementary) Use the units to
practice or learn cardinal
directions of N, S, E, & W.

• Practice adding and
subtracting 3 digit numbers to
come up with GPS
coordinates to travel
from one cache or
location to another.

• Use a Sudoku
puzzle to give cache
coordinates - replace
the first needed digit in the
puzzle with an A, second number with
a B, and so on until the full
coordinates are given.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Taking Math Outdoors, Part I

Greetings! I have some exciting lesson plans to share with you. During the 2010-2011 school year, several teachers from northwest Ohio have been gathering for what is called the STEM Inquiry Series through NWO (Northwest Ohio Center for Excellence in STEM Education) at Bowling Green State University. Several excellent teachers have been taking a monthly course titled: Taking Math Outdoors, which focuses on bringing mathematics outside through GPS and academically-based geocaching lessons.

These teachers have been working hard, learning how to utilize GPS in their classrooms with their own core content. They have focused on a specific math topic and created relevant lesson plans that can be used today. Here are a few great fractions lessons to wet your appetite!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Launch into Educaching with NASA SciFiles

Years ago, NASA put together an educational program for public television called the NASA SciFiles. It did not earn much recognition and only lasted a few seasons, but one episode in particular caught my's called The Case of the Technical Knockout. It is all about geocaching and how GPS works and it's pretty good. This could be a nice introduction to use with your students before you launch into GPS based lessons. You can follow the link to download an hour long video (which you can show in segments) and the great educator's guide shown below!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Digital Pirates: Navigating the High Seas of Geocaching in Education ready for an adventure? We certainly were at the eTech 2011conference in Columbus last month. The weather outside was frightful, but that didn't keep the participants from doing an indoor faux educaching hunt. The presentation can be viewed below. Before the conference, I wrestled with the idea of taking teachers outdoors in the freezing temperatures, much like I would if I were to take students out. I decided against it.  Instead, I created a video outdoors while in the Columbus cold to help show teachers some good hiding spots and help explain what Educaching is all about from my perspective.

A few weeks later, the weather took a turn for the better in northwest Ohio at the NWO Inquiry Series. I decided to take teachers outdoors for a lesson called Grand Slam! This lesson can be found in Educaching: GPS Based Curriculum for Teachers and incorporates math and physical education. It was a smash hit, no pun intended. Inclement weather can be tricky, but I learned a valuable lesson: If there is a break in the weather, go for it! The teachers and I were so excited to just get outside after being cooped up for a few months and enjoyed using the lesson as a unique way to capture statistical data like median, mode, mean, and range. So, if it's cold where you are, think about getting them out once or twice, even if you need to suit them up first...chances are, they'll love it and learn!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Toyota Tapestry Grant

This year, Toyota will be awarding 50 grants of $10,000 each! Now is the time to get brainstorming with a few other teachers you know or individually to get some money for technology in your classroom! The award is for any elementary, middle school, or high school science teacher. The grant focuses on environmental education and the subcategories you may choose from are biotic (living factors) and abiotic (nonliving factors pollution, oil, water, soil, and human interactions).

The deadline for your proposal is 11:59pm EST on Tuesday, February 23. You still have time to write a fantastic grant. Think of the possibilities of exploring your environment with GPS! To get you started with possible ideas, the educators at The Science Spot have prepared an amazing plan complete with cache clues and everything to get your students out on an environmental hunt. Be sure to check out this GPS lesson called EarthQuest! Just scroll down the page.

Check out the proposal requirements for the Toyota Tapestry Grant here. Good luck!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sausage Links?

For some "meaty" online links, check out the new Links Page here at The Educacher blog. I have begun to compile a list of some of the best on the web I've found that relate to the thrill of the hunt, particularly for elementary/junior high aged learners. Please comment to this post with other helpful links you find along the way so that our list can be as comprehensive as possible!
Keep 'em caching!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Something's been bugging me...

Travel bugs are a terrific way to give your students a taste of the real world via a "Flat Stanley-ish" experience. If you've never heard of them, take a second and read up on the Travel Bugs FAQ at Essentially, you can attach these trackable tags to a small object, register it online (a la Webkinz), place it in an existing geocache, and track its traveling progress online. It's very simple and there are plenty of travel bugs that have been touring the globe for a long time. Check out these great bugs that have somewhat of an educational theme:

Last Letter Morphing Bug
Race to Nome
DJ's Algebra TB of Goodness

Feel free to add any more good ones you find in the comments section of this blog!

If you're feeling up to the challenge, why not purchase a travel bug (around $5.99 USD from Groundspeak) and set your students to the task of creating an educational mission for it. You then could use the travel bug to have students collect information (geographical, mathematical, statistical, etc.) as the bug travels. Even if a travel bug is lost or stolen after awhile, the information remains logged on the web so students can continue to view it. Use the graphic organizer below or create your own to help your students brainstorm a unique purpose for their own travel bug!