This first Guest Post comes from James Langley, @lordlangley73on Twitter. In this post James give top tips for starting Geocaching this links with Unit 6.1 We are Explorers
Geocaching is a ‘Treasure Hunt With Tech’ using a mobile phone or GPS device to find hidden ‘geocaches’ all over the world. I (@lordlangley73) first found out about geocaching 3 years ago whilst on holiday and when I returned home I investigated it further and took my own offspring out on geocaching walks in our local area. It proved extremely popular with my children and I could see the possibilities of using geocaching to help develop and support outdoor provision at schools. To find more out about geocaching as a hobby visit http://www.geocaching.com
The next step was put some questions out on Twitter to see who had used geocaching within a school setting. Jen Deyenberg (@jdeyenberg), a Canadian teacher based in Scotland at the time contacted me that same evening to discuss how she had integrated geocaching with her school’s curriculum. The advise she gave was absolutely invaluable and proved to me the power of Twitter. To find out more about the work Jen has done visit http://www.trailsoptional.com
After finding out which GPS devices were ideal to use and how to set up the trail the Curriculum Innovation team trialled their first caching lesson at East Morton Primary School in Bradford. The trail involved a series of 8 hidden boxes around the grounds of the school with questions and information linked to the class’ creative curriculum theme – ‘Chocolate’. The trial proved to be extremely successful as the head teacher (Mrs Louise Dale) noted some of the skills being developed throughout the lesson. These included engagement, enjoyment, problem-solving, speaking and listening, reliance, perseverance and teamwork.
To organise a successful geocaching lesson there is quite a lot of preparation to do beforehand. You need to ensure the following:-
- All the rechargeable batteries from the devices are charged up and that you have spare batteries just in case. These can take a long time so do this the evening before.
- Once all the batteries are charged you then need to ensure all previously loaded waypoints (caches) and tracks produced are deleted from the memory on each device. Again, do this the evening before. Also make sure that the units on the device are set to metric not imperial (children don’t get feet)!
- On the morning of the caching route make sure the devices are turned on for at least 10 minutes before marking any waypoints so that the devices have time to pick up the satellites. This takes longer if there is tree cover or a lot of cloud cover and rain. I normally leave them on a windowsill.
- Pick two devices that are the most accurate according to the satellite screen (normally +/-4 metres) and fill a bag with the geocaches. Make sure the boxes are numbered. We usually use 8 caches.
- Set out your caches with the odd numbered caches on one side of the grounds and the even on the other side. This way the children travel further during the lesson when they are following the route in numerical order. Try and hide the caches out of line of sight from other caches so groups don’t get ‘muggled’ – seen by other groups.
- Once you have marked all the cache locations on the most accurate device transfer those co-ordinates over to your other devices using a laptop and USB cable.
You should now be ready to go caching. These are very simplified instructions. The Curriculum Innovation team at Bradford work with schools to create sustainable geocaching projects. We normally deliver 2 days of caching – Day 1) modeled lessons with classes and Day 2) an intensive guide for teachers on how to set up caching routes from start to finish. So far there have been 24 sustainable projects set up across Bradford. we have delivered geocaching days across the UK and in Germany for the British Military Schools and we are also working with lottery funded charities and museum services to develop family days. If you would like some help to create a sustainable project please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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