Geocaching At School

Do you want to try geocaching together with your students? This article helps you organize a day of geocaching where the game is introduced to the kids and they get to try it themselves on already existing caches. Expect that around three hours are needed for this.

Preparations

  • Obtain GPS devices or ask students who are able to to bring their own smartphones with GPS functions. Give them as homework to read the instructions and familiarize themselves with their device and how to add coordinates, since each device is different.
  • Choose 5-10 caches in the vicinity of the school and print a compilation of them, their descriptions, etc.
  • Prepare a presentation – preferably a Power Point since you can then show pictures of cache types and the website – giving an overview of what geocaching is and how it works.

Introduction

Odds are that only a few of your students have ever heard of geocaching before, let alone tried it. Start with the basics and present how the game works. Use a projector and a computer to be able to show the website in action, especially the map. Search for your school or home town and show the kids how many caches there are that they pass every day. Let them pick places around the world to search for and see if there are any caches there. They will be surprised!

As an alternative, hand out a printed copy of the geocaching map of your area to each student. The point is that showing them that there are caches nearby is important, as it gives a connection to real life.

In your introduction, also include some brief information about the website, that anyone can place caches, what a GPS is, what to do when you find a cache (log the find in the container and online), and what is usually found inside a cache.

You can also bring and show examples of different containers, from nano to regular, and of course a real GPS. You should ago though how the GPS works and let the kids experiment for around 15 minutes, so that they learn how to use them.

The try-out walk

A walk where the students search for real caches is a given. You can speak of the hobby for hours, but they will never fully understand unless they get to try it out. Remember that you can easily spend hours on this and the introduction in the classroom should therefor be kept to a minimum.

The caches you select for the trip should preferably be of a variety of types but of easy difficulty. How many you pick depend largely on how many are available and how far they are apart. Print all the most important information about each cache (terrain and difficluty, size specifications, description, the three latest logs, coordinates and any hints). The students can add the coordinates manually to their devices. Most smartphones don’t even require the geoaching app – the coordintes can be added in a map app instead.

Divide your students into groups of 3-5 and make sure that each group has at least one device, preferably more. Hand out and go through the printed material. What does the terrain and diffiulty stars mean? What are the different size definitions? What does the hint mean? How can previous logs help them? But don’t reveal too much about each cache – let them wonder a bit themselves in the field.

The first cache you go to – probably the one closest to the school – you can find together as an example. After that, the groups can go in different directions. Don’t make it a specific order and let the students decide the route themselves. But try to scatter them so that two groups don’t  go to the same cache at the same time. You can always decide who starts where and the students can take it from there.

Finish up by meeting back at the school at a specific time.

“Professional” help

Are you no geocaching expert? Do some research, because you need to know the basics. But also consider contacting a local geocacher and ask her if she’d like to organize rhis, holding the presentation and leading the walk. Many geocachers would be happy to.

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