My girls and I were introduced to "Geocaching" several years back from a group of 4-Her’s putting on a program at a local library. It was a very informative program, and the girls were able to participate in finding a couple of caches. We were inspired by the stories told about the fun hunts, and the examples they brought of some of the cool stuff they had found. We learned that these hunts take place all over the world, and many people go geocaching in new spots on vacations.
It was at that time we learned that GPS stands for Global Positioning System of satellites, and that these hand held devices can get you within 50 feet of a hidden object, or "cache". This is done by using a GPS receiver to obtain signals from the satellites giving the location of the objects hidden as "waypoints", which are the latitude and longitude measurements combined, expressed in degrees, minutes and seconds. It is from these waypoints that a cache is hidden and found.
I immediately signed up on the geocaching website to learn more, and began my quest for a handheld GPS unit. I did finally decide on one some months later, but in the hussle and bussle of moving, we put it away and forgot about it. When my husband was getting ready to deploy to Iraq, he asked if I knew where that GPS had gone, and we soon dug it out and he took it with him.
When I heard the title "Educaching" from the TOS Crew, my ears perked up. After all the past interest, including obtaining the equipment, I knew what this meant. We were finally gonna get to dive into using that GPS! When I brought this up to my girls, they were excited. Not only do they love new technology, but hunting for treasure outdoors still sounded like a cool idea.
I received Educaching GPS Based Curriculum for Teachers by Jason Hubbard and the SDG Creations Staff as a secured download in pdf form. It is labeled for grades 4-8, but I feel can easily be adapted to most grades and ages.
My copy is 127 pages packed full of:
* Teacher’s Training
* 20 Lesson Plans (beginner, intermediate and advanced)
* Field Sheets (lesson templates, teacher maps and student maps for printing)
* Acquiring a GPS
*Beyond the Basics (clubs and further activities)
I enjoyed reading through the teacher’s section. Though I was already a bit familiar with the idea of the GPS , I had never actually used it. I was dreading beginning somewhat, because I knew it would take quite a chunk of time for me to figure the whole thing out, go through the plans and hide the caches. I was quite inspired by the wealth of information I found here, though. It explains the program and ways to use it very thoroughly, beginning with vocabulary and lingo, taking a tour of a GPS receiver, kinds of containers to use, and safety.
The manual is definitely geared towards larger groups, and describes ‘teamwork’ dividing kids up into 5 different "roles", but they can certainly be adapted to less participants.
In this section are some easy-start projects to familiarize you with the procedures and process. These were easy and fun to implement, and suggest beginning with a look at latitude and longitude on maps. My girls picked up the steps of recording and following the waypoints fairly quickly from these easy beginning setups.
The lesson plan pages are very organized and easy to follow. They also show national standard stats for those concerned with or needing that information. The field sheets for each lesson are very neat and easy to follow. I copied a teacher’s map and student maps for each before we got started. We scanned through most of the lessons together. The girls really wanted to start with an intermediate lesson "Rain Birds" which also happens to be a sample on the website. I thought it interesting (and lucky for me!) that they chose the first one to be one in which I did not have to hide caches! Instead, we read about the Story of the Rainbirds of the Zuni Indians, and mapped out different triangles using tent stakes, string, protractors and a tape measure. They plotted the way points on their maps and sketched out the triangles they had made. We learned the secret of the rainbird is in his triangular body which when tilted certain ways mean different things. After our time outside, we created our own rainbirds inside using construction paper to cut out the different types of triangles we learned about and decorating them with feathers and such to make their own rainbirds. The girls really love lessons on nature and Indians and such, so they didn’t seem to even realize they were actually discussing geometry. LOL.
I can see that this curriculum will definitely take quite a chunk of extra time to set up, but for my family will be worth it for a monthly break or so. In south Texas we are fortunate to have warm weather for most of the year, but it does get quite windy on our hill many days. We’ve had many days of blowing rain this fall which didn’t allow us to go educaching more than the first few easy-start projects and the Rainbird lesson so far.
One would definitely have to take the weather into consideration in planning when to use these lessons, and scheduling a raincheck day would be a good idea as well .
We love nature walks and outdoor learning, and I think once we do a few of these that the setup time will be less. I would like to include, however, that for those who have never really used a GPS, the time investment will be a large one. Just like anything, however, the time you invest will pay off, because I’ve never met too many kids who don’t LOVE to hunt for treasure outdoors on a beautiful day using some high-tech device!
You can purchase Educaching for $32.00 (plus S & H and applicable taxes). You will receive a 3-ring binder and CD with customizable templates for copying. You may also purchase it in PDF download format as I received for $32.00 plus no additional S & H, but I printed the manual off, finding it more useful to refer to in hand.
Happy Hunting !
This product was provided to our family for review purposes; opinions are my own.