Sunday, May 10, 2009

Serious Gaming With Geocaching @ School

Serious Games creating meaningful learning activities

Via: GPS-ReceiversGeocaching and Educational Applications

A GPS device and a hunger for adventure are all you need for high tech treasure hunting.

At, you will find the latest treasures, or “caches,” in your area, how to hide your own cache, and information on how to get started in this fun and exciting sport.

Geocaching is an entertaining adventure game for Global Positioning Systems (GPS) users. Participating in a cache hunt is a good way to take advantage of the wonderful features and capability of GPS receivers. Educators could hide geocaches with their students right on the school grounds!

Individuals and organizations have set up caches all over the world and share the locations of these caches on the Internet. GPS users can then use the location coordinates to find the caches. Once found, a cache may provide the visitor with a wide variety of rewards. All the visitor is asked to do is if they take something from the cache, they should try to leave something for the cache.

The word “Geocaching” represents geo for geography, and caching for the process of hiding a cache. A cache is used in hiking, exploring, and camping as a hiding place for concealing and preserving provisions.

GPS is all around us: Archaeologists use GPS to mark dig sites and specific artifacts within them, historians use GPS to map historic sites, military historians use GPS to mark troop movements on battlefields, genealogists use GPS to mark gravesites and abandoned cemeteries, cartographers use GPS for mapmaking, E-911 crews use GPS to find accidents and residences, utilities personnel use GPS to map and plan gas and electric lines, and thousands more applications exist.

What better way to have students conduct field investigations than by using the same tool that these scientists, engineers, and other professionals use everyday on the job?

As of early 2006, there were 250,000 active caches in 221 countries. During a recent week, over 172,000 new logs were written by 27,000 account holders.

Educational Applications

Students can learn about the following through Geocaching:

Geography - coordinate systems (latitude and longitude, and other coordinate systems such as UTM and state plane), maps, and become familiar with the school grounds, local area, or region.

Mathematics -angles, distances, triangulation, and direction.

Field Work - How to work in the field and collect meaningful data.

NYGPS mail group, created in 2001, was originally intended for New York State educators who are exploring the use of GPS and the Internet for math, science, and social studies instruction

They later expanded to include all teachers, college faculty, and professional GPS users who are interested in this topic. Their goal is to create meaningful learning activities for students. They work to build a community of educators who are integrating the use of GPS and mapping technology into their state curricula for math, science and social studies. The learning activities that result will inherently address many national and NYS learning standards.

They intend that through the use of GPS and mapping technology, students will practice the vital language arts and communication skills they will need to complete hands-on, inquiry-based, collaborative projects involving higher order thinking skills.

Via: Environment Canada - Geocache Your Watershed – A Guide for High-Schools
“Geocache Your Watershed” is an innovative pilot project from Environment Canada (EC) that involves the use of an existing adventure game for Global Positioning System (GPS) users known as “Geocaching” as a tool for promoting the discovery of local watersheds and exploring the importance of fresh, clean, safe water.

A watershed is an area of land that water flows across or through on its way to a particular water body, such as a stream, river, wetland or coast. Think of it as the land upon which precipitation (such as rain) falls and flows to a common, watery place. No matter where you live, work or play, you are in a watershed!

Canada has five main watersheds: the Arctic, the Atlantic (which includes the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River), Hudson Bay, the Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico. Each of these massive landscapes contains a network of subwatersheds, most of which are connected through configurations of tributaries (streams and rivers) that channel water to an ocean. Canada is subdivided into 594 subwatersheds.

With this project, high school students and teachers and the public in general are encouraged to research their local watersheds and develop information pamphlets that will be made available through existing or new caches registered with

“Geocache Your Watershed” began as a pilot project in the fall of 2006 with four schools across Canada participating. Since then, the project has expanded to include one high school in every province in Canada.
The ultimate goal would be to have a participating high school in every watershed in Canada.

Using GPS devices, they will create geocaches in their area and include the information pamphlets they have created. This knowledge will then be transferred, by way of geocaching, to the public who visit this watershed location.

About Geocaching 

Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, and outdoors.

In fact, Geocaching is a game of hiding and seeking treasure. A geocacher can place a geocache in the world, pinpoint its location using GPS technology and then share the geocache's existence and location online. Anyone with a GPS device can then try to locate the geocache

Easy Steps to Geocaching
  1. Register for a free membership.
  2. Click "Hide & Seek a Cache."
  3. Enter your postal code and click "search."
  4. Choose any geocache from the list and click on its name.
  5. Enter the coordinates of the geocache into your GPS Device.
  6. Use your GPS device to assist you in finding the hidden geocache.
  7. Sign the logbook and return the geocache to its original location.
  8. Share your geocaching stories and photos online.

Sharing Your Experience

If you new to geocaching, here are steps to help you get started with logging your finds and uploading photos from your geocaching adventures.

  1. Visit and log in using your username and password.
  2. Visit the geocache detail page for the geocache you found.
  3. On the top-right corner of the page, click 'log your visit'.
  4. From the 'Type of log' drop-down menu, select 'Found it'.
  5. Enter the date of your geocache find.
  6. Enter any comments you wish to share with the owner and/or community regarding your find.
  7. Select any trackable items (from the inventory box) that you dropped off in the geocache with your find.
  8. Click 'Submit log entry'
  9. After you hit 'submit log entry' on your geocache find, click 'upload a photo.'
Groundspeak's Geocaching iPhone Application

Recently, GroundSpeak, the organization behind the site has released a
Geocaching iPhone app

The iPhone 3G uses a combination of GPS, Wi-Fi positioning and cell towers to determine your approximate location. Groundspeak's iPhone Application then queries the database in real-time and provides a list of geocaches near you. The application can also geocode addresses, search using a location from your address book, or look up a geocache by its GC code.

Geocaching Application Screenshots

Find Caches ------------- Search Results

Result Map ------------- Cache Info Map

Geocache Details --------- Map Navigation

Compass Navigation ------ Trackable Items