I have always enjoyed the idea of Geocaching. Even though I own a GPS device, there were always some missing pieces as I tried to wrap my head around the concept. I had nagging misunderstandings – the unknown was a great block to my understanding. With the help of my colleagues in the #diffiMOOC, Virgil and Chip, I have now been able to understand sufficiently the difference between a GIS and a GPS, and I’ve cultivated a Pearltree to help me gather good resources about Geocaching in general, and Geocaching in education specifically.
The resources I have found most helpful include an explanation of how to geocache with the iPhone, and this explanation of ways to use geocaching in the classroom. I especially like the idea of a homework assignment in which students find a cache that contains a question, and must find the right answer in order to find the next cache (which hopefully contains something more interesting than another question!).
As we think about STREAM (Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Art and Math) the idea of school-based or grade-based Geocaching projects could be very valuable. Allowing students to create their own caches which contain their writing, their artwork or challenges for others could also be valuable. If we integrate this with Augmented Reality (a tool such as Aurasma), then the cache could contain original student artwork that links to a video sharing relevant information about a unit being studied or a topic being explored.
Suddenly latitude and longitude are concrete concepts and have meaning beyond pointing to lines on a map – or pointing to a point on a globe. A cell phone becomes a tool with a use beyond communication, and student involvement in the curriculum becomes quite authentic and important!
I am envisioning teacher-led caching projects that allow classes to place their own caches around the school grounds (or even in the school) – so that if cell phones or iPads are used as the GPS device, wifi might be utilized and data is not necessary. This would be important for our Bush classrooms where student cell phones may not have data capabilities, and of course for those of us who don’t have ATT iPads up here, and therefore have no service other than wifi.
In geocaching, the term “muggle” takes on a whole new meaning, and could integrate well with several different types of literature. Team – created stories or language arts challenges could be housed within the caches. This is just sounding like a lot of fun to me.
I focused on Language Arts here, because that is my own area of expertise. I wonder if others have ideas? If we were to do a geocaching activity, what shape might that take next week?
Any ideas are welcome!