How I Use It
I used Geocaching.com in my 5th grade classroom as a great way to extend our study of latitude, longitude, and the coordinate grid system. For example, we used latitude and longitude to locate different points across the globe. We then moved our scope closer, by examining whether we could use latitude and longitude to locate things within our school building. When the students discovered that latitude and longitude could not pinpoint locations within our building, we moved to using the coordinate grid system to map out our school and locate certain points within the building. Using coordinate geometry, we located three points on our coordinate grid system that formed a right triangle, and then calculated the length of the hypotenuse using Pythagorean’s Theorem. We extended this by using Geo-caching as a tool for hiding and locating way-points in our community. Geo-caching allowed students to use GPS and a compass on their devices to locate hidden caches near and around our school. The only downside was that we needed more time to locate more caches!
Although Geocaching is labeled as use for older students, I felt it perfectly appropriate in my 5th grade classroom. Geocaching.com is a great tool for extending the concepts of geography and coordinate geometry outside of the classroom. It gave students a real-world application to using GPS and latitude and longitude outside of locating faraway places on a map. By learning about GPS and triangulation, students were able to calculate hypotenuses and relate that back to how GPS triangulates locations using latitude and longitude. I loved how geocaching gave students an opportunity to see Math and Geography used in the real world.
I would like to see Geocaching.com offer teacher accounts so that this tool can be used more effectively in the classroom. For example, currently, each student needed to set up their own account and download their own Android app in order to locate nearby geocaches. It would be great if a teacher could set up an account for his/her classroom and add their students. This would ease the use of geocaching in the classroom.