My pet project of the year has been using GPS receivers with my students. I love to share ideas and resources to get more teachers and students involved because I see so much power, learning potential, and I love that it is technology that incorporates physical activity. Don’t hesitate to ask if you would like me to send you more information or resources. I’ve presented on the project and have resources ready to go. One of the resources I really like is Educaching, and I often reinterpret the ideas for my students. It is well worth the small expense. (No, I don’t work for them or get any money – it’s just a good resource and there aren’t many out there for using the GPS in an education setting)
Next Monday I’m taking the kids on a uber-caching field trip! We are going to have two classes of fifth grade students, looking for twelve caches on the Geocaching network. Up until now I’ve been hiding my own caches in the school yard, customized to the units I’ve been working on with the students. We have a warm up trip on Wednesday. We are headed to Beauvais Lake Provincial Park near Pincher Creek, Alberta for a wetlands pond study. In the morning we are going for a hike and finding the four caches in the area.
When I’m caching with students I find it very important that each student has a job. Each person in a group is assigned a role – my usual roles are: cache opener, cache replacer, photographer, clipboard holder/recorder, GPS navigator, and compass holder (I will often send an “old school” compass with a group so they can compare the two technologies. I have six GPS units, so the roles depend on the size of your group and the number of receivers you have. My GPS units are all on a lanyard so they go around the students’ necks and don’t get dropped (as often!)
Another great tip is always have extra batteries around. I always tell the kids if they can’t find me take the batteries out of the digital camera I send with them as a backup – but when we are out caching I always make sure I have extra batteries in my pockets.
Some of the caching activities I’ve done lately, or that I am planning to do over the remaining three weeks of school are:
1) Hide Your Own Cache – I got the students to hide a cache – choose Mark on the menu to waypoint the location – then rename the cache to something fun (one of the boys choose pinkalicious – very fun!) They would then trade the GPS units with another group and head off to find what the other group just hid. They thought this was great fun and they got even better with the GPS controls and menus.
2) Multi-Caches – I hid six caches, and in each it had co-ordinates to a second cache (this meant hiding twelve caches on a treeless, flat playground – a skill in itself). The students had to enter the new co-ordinates by hand. I generally have the students download co-orindates directly on to the GPS units using the MapSource software that comes with Garmin GPS models – it is super fast and slick – but there is merit in learning how to enter co-ordinates by hand.
3) Sudoku Puzzle Caches – I had the students solve Sudoku puzzles in their cache groups. Each row and column was labeled battleship style with numbers across the top and letters down the side. After it is solved you give them the battleship coordinates to gain the GPS coordinates eg. D5 G2 Degrees N …..and so on. They love the challenge! Email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or leave me a comment for a template for the Sudoku puzzles.
4) Matching Caches – For this one each cache has 6 of the same clue, and I had twelve caches. Six caches had wetland animals and six caches had wetland adaptations. After the six groups each collected the twelve clues they had to match the animal with the adaptation. Very adaptable (hehe) to any subject or content area.
5) Fitness Circuit Caches – I hid 8 caches and in each was an exercise. The idea is simple – find the cache – do the exercise. It was a fun PE class and it kept them moving!