Geocaching with GPS

Geocaching with GPS
Posted on 10/03/2017

In fourth grade, students learn about the importance of cardinal directions and maps, discussing coordinates and how the whole earth is one big grid.  To practice the concept of coordinate pairs, Bree Hanson, Clay County Conservation Board Naturalist, spent a day with the students. “What is a GPS?” asked Bree. “It tells you where to go and tracks you,” exclaimed a fourth grader in Mr. Schmidt’s class.  After asking what GPS stands for, and getting no response, Bree explained, “It stands for Global Positioning System.  That is where the satellites up in the solar system are zooming around, and when you type in the coordinates on the GPS, it will bounce back and tell you different spots on where you can go.  Today we are going to use GPSs by Geocaching.  After briefly describing the gist of Geocaching, emphasizing that a geocache can be large or small and that there are geocaches all over, including in Spencer, Bree shared the website,, where people post information about the location of geocaches. 

“Some people use compasses and maps, and they dial in their coordinates to find where they are going, but today, we are going to use GPSs,” said Bree.  After forming groups of two or three, Bree gave instructions on how to operate the GPS device, helping students to enter coordinates in preparation for their group geocache.  As soon as everyone had their devices set with the coordinates, the class headed outside to begin exploring the grounds around Lincoln School, looking for the hidden geocaches.  After finding the first one together, the students broke off into their groups, and entered new coordinates onto their devices to find the hidden geocache at two additional locations.  Upon successful geocaching, students were lead to the treasure, finding a box filled with bubblegum at each location, and excitedly read the directions inside the box, “Congratulations!  You have reached the Geocache Mission.  Please pick ONE piece of treasure!”

After the students found the geocache, Bree gathered everyone back together and said, “We had a struggle to get all of the GPSs in one spot, but that goes to show that we have to be able to read maps, because you can’t always depend on technology or GPS.  We have to be able to read maps and know where you are going.  What’s cool about geocaching is that you can go out with your friends and family.  All you need is a GPS or an app on your smart phone.”

As the students headed back to their classroom, fourth grader Olivia shared about her experience saying, “I learned how to use a GPS.  I learned north, south, east and west, and I learned that Geocaching is really awesome!”