At the Scottish Learning Festival TeachMeet in September 2010 we were lucky enough to catch Jen Deyenburg, a Canadian teacher who’s moved to Scotland, give a talk about “geocaching” in school. We were fascinated and just had to invite her to guest post on POPtalk to help spread the word about what sounded like a fantastic learning experience that kids would love. Watch this video to see Jen being interviewed by Canadian TV spotlighting one of her geocaching lessons:
We didn’t know at the time but Jen is also a big BrainPOP fan and had used BrainPOP topics in some of her lessons to explain concepts to her class before they began geocaching. So before you say “Geo-what?” we asked Jen if she would write a small beginners guide to combining geocaching and BrainPOP. She happily obliged and we are happy to post it below!
All over the world there are more than 1 million treasures just waiting for you and your students to find!
The official geocaching site defines the practice as:
“Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online. Geocaching is enjoyed by people from all age groups, with a strong sense of community and support for the environment.”
The idea is simple: you locate a cache (usually a plastic container), sign a log book, and log your find online. Caches are hidden all over the world, just waiting to be discovered.
Some caches have small prizes you can trade, or trackable travel bugs that each have their own code, and a page on the official website so you can see where they have been and where they are trying to go. For example this cache is all about two submarines from World War II that you can see when the tide is out, off the coast of Scotland.
There’s only a couple of rules:
- If you take something, you leave something.
- If you remove a travel bug you are supposed to move it along to another cache. This is one of my travel bugs “Dorothy the Dalgliesh Dolphin” . She has been all over Canada and the UK.
I hide temporary caches in the school yard, designed around learning activities. But I also use caches on the www.geocaching.com network to learn about history, geography, or the local area.
Most caches are hidden somewhere that is a place of interest, whether it is a beautiful spot, or a place of historical, geographic, or geologic significance. It is a great way to learn about a place you are visiting!
Combining geocaching & BrainPOP
When introducing a new technology it’s great to show students how it works to get a better understanding of the real world application. I use the BrainPOP UK Global Positioning System movie to help my students understand GPS and that they aren’t just working with the technology in their hands, but also in space.
One of my favourite geocaching lessons was a science lesson. We used the BrainPOP UK PH Scale movie to learn about the concept and to learn how to test acids and bases using litmus paper.
We used our GPS units to go out and find hidden geocaches around the playground with a sample of a substance.
Using PH strips, or litmus paper, we tested the substances. If the students thought it was an “acid” they followed one set of coordinates, a “base” another set. If they chose the correct set of co-ordinates they got another substance to test. If they chose incorrectly they found a quick reminder of how litmus paper worked, then they had to try again!
Another great benefit of using GPS devices is distance measurement and estimation. The handheld unit shows how far away a marked waypoint, or geocache is, and counts down distance as you get closer to a cache (or counts up if you are going the wrong way!).
The BrainPOP UK movie Estimating Distances is a great way to tie in Maths with Geocaching and help students understand distance relationships in real life when they are caching on the playground and how this compares with a map.
Once we find a distance in real life on the playground using the GPS (for example the distance from the door of the school to a cache) then we can create a map of our playground and create a map scale to represent the distance on our map.
Try geocaching using GPS with your class. It’s a great new way to get outdoors to learn!
Jen Deyenberg, Primary Teacher, Scotland.
More about Jen: Read Jen’s fascinating blog: www.trailsoptional.com . Jen was a Microsoft Worldwide Innovative Teacher 2009 and was nominated Best Individual Tweeter & and Best New Blog at the Edublogs awards 2009