News

Create a class of GPS explorers with geocaching

By Cheryl Phillips
March 30th, 2015

Geocaching combines problem solving, collaboration, and appreciation for the outdoors

geocaching-classroomSeveral years ago I attended a Discovery Education Teacher Institute in San Francisco, and was pulled into the adventurous world of geocaching. It was there, near the windy shores of the San Francisco Bay, that I experienced my first techy treasure hunt. After giving a speedy lesson how to use a GPS device, facilitators helped split attendees into groups of three as we locked in a given set of coordinates to begin our search for a series of “caches,” or containers with coupons for free swag hidden inside. It was a terrific bonding experience for the group and friendships were quickly formed.

Geocaching is a location-based technology treasure hunting activity that combines the great outdoors with technology and learning. With a GPS device in hand, one can look for hidden containers anywhere on earth—anywhere! Like a homing pigeon, the device zeroes in on a hidden cache and the hunt is on—often through terrain and landscapes that otherwise go unnoticed. Most containers include a logbook of those who have found it in the past, and as a result, connect a community of geocachers.

As my school’s Instructional Technology Coach, I’m constantly in search of new and inventive ways to incorporate technology both inside and outside the classroom. And as I soon learned, geocaching is not only a unique way to integrate your standards, it also teaches responsibility and caring for the environment, as geocachers are expected to adhere to the movement’s creed of “Cache In Trash Out.”

Moving into fields and forests and making learning different and more enjoyable, geocaching creates unforgettable experiences for students that go well beyond the four walls of the classroom. Of course, there are a few hurdles to jump before diving in, but with a bit of planning teachers can be on their way to creating a fun activity for their students. First and foremost, a GPS device is needed, along with a solid lesson plan, and a safe place to hide the cache.

Next page: Which devices and apps to use