Thursday, March 14, 2013

Geocaching and Education, part 10 - The Schoolyard Stash

This is post #10 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

*The following lesson is meant for a beginning teacher to dive into the waters of educaching with students.

The Schoolyard Stash 
         This activity is highly recommended as it will serve as a way to do more class instruction, while giving your students more independence. As preparation, you’ll need to hide about 7 containers. Try to make a few of the containers different sizes; some film canisters, some small Tupperware, some shoe box-sized. The reason you are doing this is so the students understand that not all Educache containers look alike, especially in size (i.e. You will not be hiding film canisters all the time!). Place within each container a simple math problem or a fun trivia question. Make it something that they can answer without too much difficulty. Hide each one carefully and mark the waypoints of each with your GPS receiver. You may also want to bring along a teacher map and mark the location and waypoint of each one for your reference. Write down each waypoint on a scrap of paper and put them in a hat for students to draw from on the day of your hunt.
          Okay, let’s go Educaching! Assemble groups and have each group choose one piece of paper out of the hat. Inform them that this is the waypoint for the educache they need to find today. This is a great time to introduce and assign the group roles of Navigator, Scribe, Reader, and Photographer (optional). Pass out the GPS receivers (and any instructions you may want) and have each group input their waypoint in their receiver, reviewing with them how to do this. Remind them to double check their coordinates!
          Now take the groups out to a central meeting spot in the schoolyard. Give them specific instructions that they are to use their compass pointers to find their educache, just as they did before. When they find it, they are to open it and solve the math problem or the trivia question inside. They then replace the question inside the container and bring the container back with them to the central meeting spot. Give your students a time limit you deem appropriate (10 minutes ought to be plenty of time). Assist any groups as needed with the equipment, but resist giving them the answers. Instead, ask questions like, “What do you think?” or “Which button would make the most sense to press now?” Encourage teamwork, but help them become independent from you and do not solve the mystery for them. Be sure each group finds their educache. Some students that finish early might be very willing to help another group that is experiencing trouble. This promotes a larger sense of teamwork in the class.
           When all groups are finished and back at the meeting spot, have each group show their educache to the other students. Have them open it, read the problem or question, then give their answer. Encourage teamwork among the class by having everyone clap for each group’s success. Even if they don’t get the answer to the question right, each group still was able to use the technology and with careful observation correctly locate their educache. Close this activity by reviewing terminology, features of the GPS receivers, or answer questions. You may even want to introduce the sport of geocaching and discuss the possibility of hiding an educache for others around the world to find, or to introduce the concept of CITOWhen finished with the activity, have the students bring all materials back inside the building. See the Beyond The Basics section of the Educaching curriculum for these ideas and much more! 

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