Geocaching in School


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Geocaching in School. What the heck is geocaching anyway?! Ah, you’ve come to the right place. Geocaching.com states, “Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.” So what does this have to do with school? A lot!

Geocaching is a great way to address a multitude of standards all at once. As good curriculum designers, you address the lesson planning in the following way:

  • Dig into the standards. What are the content standards? What are performance standards asking you to do?
  • Determine evidence of mastery.What evidence will you accept?
  • Create learning experiences. What activities will you create that will allow students to reach mastery?

I am proposing the idea that geocaching can be a learning experience that will allow students to demonstrate mastery in many areas across the curriculum.


 

So first, let’s examine Geoaching.


Spend some time examining this website to really dive into the actual process. Every time I talk about Geocaching, most people react with confusion. They had no idea this hobby involved treasures hidden around their neighborhoods. I promise that you’ve walked by plenty of geocaches without ever noticing their existence.

The Geocaching.com website does a fantastic job teaching you almost everything you need to know about Geocaching, but you really need to consider safety. Here’s a short article that will help you understand the cautions. The video below corresponds with this article.


The video cannot be shown at the moment. Please try again later.

While I adore Geocaching as a learning experience, if you practice the hobby, you must use and teach caution, caution, caution when engaging minors in the game.

 

I would use a walkie talkie to talk to your team. If you don’t have that, at least use Voxer to communicate to your travel group if you aren’t together the whole time.

Voxer, the iOS App

Voxer, the Android App

 


 

After you’ve really captured what geocaching entails, now it’s time to consider how it can be a multi-disciplinary tool.

 

Geography, Grade 4 (Wisconsin).

A.4.1 Use reference points, latitude and longitude, direction, size, shape, and scale to locate positions on various representations of the earth’s surface

A.4.4 Describe and give examples of ways in which people interact with the physical environment, including use of land, location of communities, methods of construction, and design of shelters

A.4.6 Identify and distinguish between predictable environmental changes, such as weather patterns and seasons, and unpredictable changes, such as floods and droughts, and describe the social and economic effects of these changes

A.4.8 Identify major changes in the local community that have been caused by human beings, such as a construction project, a new highway, a building torn down, or a fire; discuss reasons for these changes; and explain their probable effects on the community and the environment.

History, Grade 4 (Wisconsin).

B.4.3 Examine biographies, stories, narratives, and folk tales to understand the lives of ordinary and extraordinary people, place them in time and context, and explain their relationship to important historical events

B.4.5 Identify the historical background and meaning of important political values such as freedom, democracy, and justice

B.4.7 Identify and describe important events and famous people in Wisconsin and United States history

B.4.8 Compare past and present technologies related to energy, transportation, and communications and describe the effects of technological change, either beneficial or harmful, on people and the environment

Political Science, Grade 4 (Wisconsin).

C.4.6 Locate, organize, and use relevant information to understand an issue in the classroom or school, while taking into account the viewpoints and interests of different groups and individuals

Behavioral Science, Grade 4 (Wisconsin).

E.4.1 Explain the influence of prior knowledge, motivation, capabilities, personal interests, and other factors on individual learning

E.4.5 Identify and describe institutions such as school, church, police, and family and describe their contributions to the well being of the community, state, nation, and global society

E.4.7 Explain the reasons why individuals respond in different ways to a particular event and the ways in which interactions among individuals influence behavior

 

And that’s just Social Studies! 

If you include the Common Core State Standards, you’ll have other considerations. For example, if your students are geocaching near a historical site, there are probably several related non-fiction or historical fiction pieces to integrate. When we were Geocaching in West Salem, WI, I discovered that we were going to find the grave of Hamlin Garland, the man I wrote about in my senior capstone paper back in college. That find spurred oodles of discussion!

You can also generate several quality writing experiences from any geocaching adventure. Actually, when I look at the Common Core, my mind floods with great ideas. Unlike the Wisconsin Social Studies Standards, the Common Core State Standards give you direction at every grade level.

As I went through the Social Studies standards, I found myself wanting to justifying almost all of them. Really, depending on how you frame the experience, Geocaching offers multiple opportunities to demonstrate mastery of many standards.

Besides Social Studies and the Common Core, you can also examine technology standards like the ISTE Technology standards or state standards.

 

Regardless of what standards you address, I hope you consider using Geocaching as a mean to reach standards across the curriculum. When done safely, there are many opportunities for authentic learning.

For more information, please consider the ISTE book GPS and Geocaching in Education.