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How To Use Geocaching With Students To Enrich Their Learning

Have you ever tried Geocaching with students?

We all know that being outdoors is beneficial for everyone, but how can we get students outside during the school day and have them learn at the same time? 

Some schools have started to build “outdoor classrooms,” places where students can go to learn about nature and have an education outdoors. This is one way to get kids outside, but what if we want to move beyond learning about nature? 

Why not try geocaching with students? 

You might be wondering what geocaching is. If you love the outdoors or going on a hike, geocaching would be the perfect adventure to take while you’re outside. The bonus is that it’s a great learning activity for students. 

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What is Geocaching?

Geocaching is a type of hide-and-seek, location-based game for outdoor enthusiasts. A person creates a “cache,” a treasure hidden at specific coordinates for anyone to find. 

Geocaching isn’t just hiding something behind a bush in the schoolyard or placing something on a bench. It involves the GPS – Global Positioning System. 

What did we ever do before GPS? Most phones these days have a built-in GPS to help users find their way around – which is especially helpful when travelling in a new city. But GPS also has another use. It can be used for tracking. 

Geocaching uses GPS to hide objects in more difficult-to-find areas, so the seeker needs to go beyond just using their eyes to find a cache. Think “off the beaten path” areas. When you go for a hike, your treasure won’t be just on the side of the path, but you might have to hike through the trees to find it. 

To find that location, you will put specific coordinates, and your GPS will lead you to those coordinates. Caches are usually packaged in the same way: They are in a waterproof container (of various sizes – a geocache can be tiny or big), they include a log book and a pencil, and they include some sort of treasure, such as coins, shells, books, small toys, etc. 

Geocaching is very simple:

  • Find the cache.
  • Take something from the cache.
  • Leave something in the cache of equal or greater value.
  • Write your name and date in the logbook.
  • Log your find in the app. 
  • Place the cache back exactly where you found it. 

Since geocaching is location-based, you always want to place the item back in the exact same spot you found it, or others won’t be able to find it. You also want to be sure that if you take an item, you need to leave an item of equal or greater value in the cache – in other words, don’t leave junk. 

How is Geocaching With Students A Learning Activity? 

Geocaching is fun for all ages. It is a great way to spend time outside with family and friends – and with classmates. 

If you’re considering geocaching with students, you can teach them about location and how to find a specific location. Before even signing up on the official Geocaching website, you could hide treasures around the schoolyard and provide simple coordinates for your students to find. 

Geocaching encourages movement and exploration. Students will feel a sense of adventure as they search for treasure and a feeling of accomplishment when they finally find it. 

This activity will show students the importance of putting things away where they found them, the perseverance needed to search for something that might be hard to find, and the benefits of teamwork as they work with their classmates to find treasure. 

What Tools Are Needed to Geocache With Students? 

First, you are going to need a GPS device. This could be your phone, or it could be a handheld outdoors hiking-style GPS. If you’re just starting out, using your phone will help you understand what’s involved while geocaching, and you won’t waste any money if you end up not liking it. 

If you do end up loving geocaching, getting a handheld GPS is much more beneficial: 

  • It is easy for kids to use. 
  • You don’t want to drop your cell phone while searching.
  • They come in a variety of styles and prices. 

Here are two suggested GPS devices:

Second, you’re going to want to have an account on the official Geocaching app so you can log your finds. 

And that’s it! Students should dress appropriately for the weather and have good walking shoes, but otherwise, not much is needed for this fun activity. 

How Can I Use Geocaching With Students in The Classroom? 

Geocaching in the classroom can be a break from indoor learning. We all need fresh air, especially students, so getting outside is very beneficial. 

  • If you don’t use the official app, you can hide items around the schoolyard and write down their coordinates. Then, have students work in teams to find the treasure. 
  • Have an Earth Day clean-up day and celebrate by doing some geocaching after. (You can also go here for more Earth Day ideas: Middle School Earth Day Lesson)
  • Do your kids enjoy digital escape rooms? Create a series of puzzles they need to solve by finding caches hidden around the school. (Check out: Why Use Digital Escape Rooms in Middle School?)
  • If you teach latitude and longitude in the classroom, this is a fun way to reinforce those concepts. 

Here are a few links on how other teachers and educators use geocaching for teaching. 

Geocaching is an example of real-life learning and a wonderful hands-on activity that can easily be implemented in the classroom. With a little creativity, geocaching with students will be fun and educational for all. 

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