This is the first of eight posts where I discuss some of the things that I talked about at the 2010 Learning and Teaching Scotland Outdoor Learning Regional Events
If you have not heard of Geocaching before than you might find the idea a little strange you also might find it quite strange that currently all over the world there are 1,102,064 (16th June 2010) pieces of Tupperware of various sizes hiding little logbooks and often other objects that you have to find. You find them by downloading the co-ordinates from geocashing.com to your handheld GPS and then using your GPS to help lead you to the hidden objects.
The YouTube video embedded below explains the idea a lot better than I ever could:
Geocaching is the biggest treasure hunt on the planet and is great fun to do with children and it is also a very popular activity with families as well.
The uses of Geocaching in education are fairly obvious. You could for example try and find some of the Geocaches around your school? Or, if you were visiting a new place you could try and find some of the Geocachesin that area? Or, you could plan an activity where one of the purposes was to find some Geocaches?
You could also introduce your class to travel bugs or geo-coins. There are small shaped objects or coins that can be left in Geocaches. When you find one you go to the trackable items page on geocaching.com and say that you have found it. These objects often have an aim (eg: to get back to their owner or to get as close to the Prime Meridian as possible). Children (or adults) can put a geo-coin or travel bug in a cache and then track it on-line to follow its progress. Not only do children find this an interesting activity in itself but the learning that can come from this on-line tracking can be fantastic. Just think of the possibilities for a lesson on location, geography, numeracy and maths as you follow your object remotely move from place to place over the globe.
For me however where Geocaching with children gets really interesting is when you think about children hiding their own cache in their local area.
Think about it. First of all children have to go and find a good place to there cache, then they have to locate that place on the map and up-load the GPS coordinates, then they have to decide what they are going to hide the cache in. I have seen some wonderful examples of cashes that have been covered in camouflaged Tupperware containers, hidden in tennis balls, been magnetic, stuffed inside plastic bugs and I we even found one inside a false rock up on Arthurs Seat in Edinburgh. Jen ‘geocache’ Deyenberg has written a good post on different types of cashes over on TrailsOptional.com.
Anyway, once the children have decided how and where they are going to hide their cache they then have to up-load the co-ordinates to geocashing.com and monitor to see who finds it. They also have to take responsibility and look after their cache to make sure that it is always stocked with paper and that it doesn’t get damages by the weather.
Overall, I think that this would be a really interesting activity to do with children and we are going to be doing some more geocaching work as one of the 2010 / 2011 Learning and Teaching Scotland Consolarium development projects.