Geocaching is quickly becoming a hit with families across the nation. It's a purpose for exercising and discovering new areas around where you live or while on vacation. The thrill of geocaching, as I'm coming to understand, isn't about what you find, it's the hunt. But is it purposeful in education?
I wrote a grant to purchase handheld GPS devices for our Outdoor Education curriculum, but the coordinator of the program pulled their support at the 11th hour. My thinking behind the grant was to develop a route to keep kids on the path that they've been using for years by marking waypoints (Geocache glossary) where the current path markers (red string) are located. There would also be a waypoint where teachers would do the instruction...the same instruction that they've done in the past. I was not trying to change the curriculum. I was trying to build enthusiasm on the way to the curriculum. The coordinator didn't believe that students would stay on the path. She thought that students would spend more time looking at the "device" than observing around them in nature. My response was a) that's why I put waypoints on the trail and b) the teacher's need to hold them accountable (and not all students would have a handheld...switching back and forth). I don't feel that introducing handheld GPS devices will hurt current class management issues. I'm not suggesting typical geocaching. It's not a free for all to get to the next spot. She also quoted research that said kids spend more time using technology than in nature. I completely agree, but aren't we introducing this technology so kids will get out in nature more?? So we are on hold for now. We do have two more grant opportunities before next summer, but I would like some feedback as to how you would approach this situation. We talk all the time about making change...this is a big change for this person and this curriculum. The coordinator has agreed to let a teacher (who is big into geocaching) try it out in a couple weeks, so we'll see how it goes. I still would like to have any good feedback or advice that you have!
Always happy to share great resources: Jason Everett is working on a GPS Blog at ESU 10 here in Nebraska. I know he is working on more content for the new blog, so check back soon.
Additional resources that are coming in: