Wednesday, February 06, 2008

GPS and Geocaching

Yesterday I attended the eTech Ohio State Technology Conference. It was jam packed, the busiest I've ever seen it, and many of the sessions were standing-room only. As a result, I didn't get into a couple of sessions that I really wanted to check out. However, one session made the whole day worth it for me. I don't know much about GPS and Geocaching, but Jeff Good's presentation on the topic got me excited to learn more. Here are some of the important points from his presentation.

  • There are three elements to GPS:
    • Satellites
    • Ground Stations
    • Receivers
  • GPS knows your position and tracks time; as a result, it can calculate distance, speed, direction, and even elevation. You can also use the unit to navigate from one location to another.
  • Geocaching is when someone hides a treasure (logbook, trinkets) and then provides the coordinates so that GPS owners can find them. Geocaching.com is a site that connects hiders with seekers (my words). Type in a zip code and get a list of all the items that are hidden within that area. You can also type in an address and get a list. Click on a result and get the latitude and longitude so that you can import them into your computer. Directions are given as to how to find the cache. Clues are provided.
  • A cache can be more than just a treasure. He gave an example of a group of students who went to a nature preserve and recorded the coordinates of several different types of trees. Then others could download the coordinates of those trees and when they found them on their GPS units, would be able to identify the type of tree. Other types of caches: traditional, multi-cache, reverse cache, earthcaching.
  • Several people also mentioned that one of the benefits of geocaching is that it gets you out into the area around your house. We often are oblivious to some of the details of our surroundings, but with geocaching you can discover things that you didn’t know were around you.
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6 comments:

Ditto said...

Glad to see that you are interested in Geocaching! Yes, it does get you out and about. We're having great fun with it.

If you would like to find out more about Geocaching check out this great resource called Geocaching Online It has a regularly updated blog and hundreds of links to Geocaching how-to's, information and more.

Norm said...

Adding popular technologies to the classroom is a great way to teach. Here's an idea you might try. A classroom up here by the Twin Cities left keys in this geocache. People are now picking up the keys and creating travel bugs that travel from cache to cache.
Here's an example of one.
The students that left the keys in the cache can now track their keys all over the world on Google Earth.

A smart teacher could create lessons on geography, science, & others based on where the keys travel. It's a cool idea!

Follow our geocaching adventures at The Northwoods Geocats

zac said...

The work of futurelab.org.uk in a related space is also very interesting. Their Savannah project had students investigating an African savannah, in the roles of predator and prey - all within the school grounds.

They do plenty of other sound projects making intelligent use of technologies to maximize learning.

misterteacher said...

Ditto...Thanks for the link. I'll check it out for sure when I begin to finalize my plans for geocaching with my students.

Zac...Wow! The projects on futurelab are amazing! I'd love to get the support of an organization like that.

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Anonymous said...

I wrote a grant for a set of GPSs for my students and we have geocaching now as part of multiple curriculums. Check out our web page and let me know if you want a copy of the grant. http://www.tcmstornadoes.com/gps