Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Geocaching and Education, part 2 - Vocabulary Lesson

This is post #2 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

Know The Lingo!

In order to embark upon this adventure, you will need to familiarize yourself with the terminology of an educacher. Here’s your language lesson:
cache – This is the first word you need to know! It is pronounced just like the word “cash.” The original word refers to some sort of a hiding place that items were temporarily stored in. Your computer has a memory cache where files are stored in order to gain quick access. In this book, we will refer to any item that is hidden as an Educache (defined below).
coordinates – These are the latitude and longitude measurements which, combined, make up a waypoint. They can be displayed a variety of ways (refer to your GPS receiver manual), but the default setting for most GPS receivers is to show you coordinates in decimal minutes, which is used for the examples in the lessons of this book. The format looks like this example: N41°33.383   W83°36.280
The N and W are your headings (North and West), the first two numbers in each set show you the degrees, and the 5 digit decimal number following is the minutes converted to decimal form. Note: The full coordinate format is degrees, minutes, and seconds
Educache – Any item or container that is hidden for students to find and directly applies to their learning.
Educaching – This is a teacher-led, student-driven hunt for learning involving GPS technology, mapping, teamwork, and adventure! The students work in teams and use latitude and longitude coordinates to find hidden puzzles, science experiments, math problems, and many other educational lessons.
geocaching – Geocaching is the original adventure sport for GPS users that originated in 2000. The sport involves people from all over the world with caches hidden all over the world. Many caches hide bits of history, puzzles, track-able items that travel the world, tiny trinkets to take and to leave, or just a log to sign that proves you found one!
GPS – This is short for the global positioning system, which is a system of 27 satellites (24 active, 3 for backup) that circulate the globe sending signals that are picked up by GPS receivers.

GPS receiver (GPSr) – A unit that can fit in the palm of your hand or on the dashboard of your vehicle that will receive signals from several of the GPS satellites and allow you to pinpoint your location (or the location of something else) anywhere on Earth. Most smartphones come equipped with an onboard, reliable GPS chipset that can be used with extremely affordable apps to find caches.

field sheet – The field sheet is what students take with them out into the schoolyard in order to record measurements, log findings, solve puzzles, and record other data relevant to the lesson. It serves as their written record and is used when they return to the classroom for debriefing of the lesson and further study.  

student/teacher map – These maps are fundamental in implementing each lesson. An Educache can certainly be found without using a map, but will be used in these lessons to hold students accountable to the locations they find and will increase mapping skills, directional awareness, and will allow the students to create a model of distances and measurements. The teacher will use the teacher map in preparation of the activities in order to have a physical model on paper of where each Educache is located. The students will each have a copy of the student map so they can draw and log the locations and waypoints and, in many cases, create a physical representation of the data they’ve found for later study.
trackpoints – a single dot that appears on the GPS display recording user movement. 
travel bug/geocoin – These are the names of just a few of the items that can be purchased online and sent to travel wherever you want them to go. Their progress can be tracked online, with stories and pictures logged by the finders of these items as they make their journey to other states and countries. See the Beyond The Basics section for applicable uses of these items with your classroom.
waypoint – A waypoint is a marked location that is stored in the memory of your GPS receiver. When you hide an educache for your students, you will mark the waypoint in your GPS receiver and on your teacher map for reference. You will give these waypoints to your students in order to find an educache at that given location.

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