Sure, Pokémon Go is popular, but geocaching has long been a hobby for tech-savvy explorers that can be used in your classroom.
The year was 2000 and Jeremy Irish launched geocaching.com. Using similar technology as Pokémon Go, geocaching is a fresh, tech-based treasure hunt. By understanding how it works and where it can take children, geocaching can prove to be an extremely useful educational tool.
What is Geocaching?
Based in navigation technology, geocaching explorers use smartphones or GPS devices to find sites where fellow adventurers leave geocaches. With more than two million geocaches located around the world, geocaching provides many opportunities to learn outside in the world. Geocaches vary in size and type, but all include a paper log in which explorers record their victorious discovery by writing their name and the date, allowing everyone who participates to stay connected in some small way. Some caches also include small tokens that explorers can trade, therefore advise students to have on hand a small item to leave behind.
Methods to Implement Geocaching
With different types of geocaches — such as Traditional, Multi-Cache, Mystery, EarthCache, Letterbox Hybrid, Event, Webcam, Wherigo, or Virtual — hidden around communities, students are able to learn many valuable lessons. Try using geocaching to teach students during the following situations:
- Field Trips Prior to embarking on a field trip, prepare students for adventure by outlining the type and number of geocaches located around the site they will visit. If students are unable to search for geocaching while participating in the primary attraction at a field-trip site, be certain to plan time for finding geocaches before or after the main tour, presentation, or event.
- Family Vacation While preparing for holiday breaks, such as Thanksgiving, winter-holiday break, spring break, or a three-day weekend, assign a geocaching project to students. If the assignment includes any geocaching exploring outside the vicinity of the home, be certain to notify parents and receive permission for each student’s participation in the project.
- Volunteering Serving as a volunteer promotes selflessness, responsibility, and leadership. When organizing volunteer opportunities for students, include geocaching exercises at volunteer locations whenever possible. Though students should dedicate time separate from the volunteer task to geocaching, kids should use every opportunity to explore the world around them.
Benefits of Geocaching in Education
As educators seek fresh approaches to education, geocaching can provide alternative learning environments. Allowing students to explore their world, outside in nature, provides an incomparable learning environment and promotes curiosity, which might encourage children to travel, thereby teaching tolerance and providing an invaluable education of the world and its inhabitants. This method of learning can also be useful to promote teamwork and perseverance, both of which are necessary for success as adults. Teachers can choose to focus on a particular subject by tailoring assignments around certain topics, or simply allow students to discover new information as they progress in a geocaching challenge.
Resources for Successful Geocaching
Go directly to the source at geocaching.com to register and begin exploring. A premium service exists for a a fee, but students and teachers will benefit from the standard program. The service offers resources specifically designed for teachers to help students embark on geocaching adventures. In addition to the original source for geocaching, begin following other sites, like National Geographic and Youtube channels that offer successful geocaching success stories for kids.
Regardless of how geocaching is included in lessons, be certain to either become familiar with the terrain through which students will be taken, or advise them to research sites where geocaches are located. Terrain can become challenging and no one wants to be caught unprepared outside in nature, as YouTube duo MOREJStu discovered during a 2016 geocaching adventure. Remember, geocaching is used to provide a fun, new method of discovery and encourage outdoor exploration. Make sure every student is engaged in the geocaching experience by experimenting with different cache-collecting methods.