THE FWSU STORY: Taking Learning Outside with GPS Technology

As part of the Friends Of Fletcher Elementary (FOFE) after-school program, a group of 15 students in grades 3-6 are participating in geocaching activities once a week.

The group began their learning adventure by first learning about geocaching. Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor adventure. Students are learning to use GPS devices to navigate to hidden containers called geocaches. It combines technology, wellness, and gamification all in one learning opportunity. After learning how to navigate to a waypoint to find traditional geocaches, students then learned how to program GPS devices to hide their own geocaches.

First, the group mastered traditional geocaches, A Traditional Cache is the simplest form of a geocache. It consists of a container with a logbook and is located at the posted coordinates.

Next, the students took on the challenge of mystery caches. Unlike the traditional geocache, the posted coordinates are unknown. Geocachers must first solve a puzzle to get the correct coordinates. Once they have that figured it out, they have to input the data into the GPS and then try to find it like the traditional geocache. Students have had fun challenging themselves with coding and ciphers to find mystery caches.

After accomplishing this challenge, the group took on multi-caches. Multi-Caches include multiple stages in addition to the final container with a logbook. They start with coordinates for a Multi-Cache are the first stage. At each stage, the geocacher gathers information that leads them to the next stage or to the final container.

Students now face the challenge of designing a geocaching adventure themselves. They will take all the skills they have been developing and put them all to use in a GPS final challenge.

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