Geocaching (FBCEC)

Summary:

Participants will be introduced to the outdoor sport of geocaching and global positioning systems using Garmin Etrex (GPS) units. Participants will enter waypoint coordinates into a GPS receiver, use the receiver to locate a hidden cache, mark a waypoint and place a cache. The caches will contain a sign-in log and either a prize coupon or a note with instructions.

Grade Level:

5 - 12

Recommended Setting:

Outdoors

Outdoor Activity:

Yes

Location:

Fred Berry Conservation Education Center, Yellville, AR

Contact:

Education Program Coordinator, 870-449-3484

Duration:

45 minutes - 1 hour

Suggested Number of Participants:

Up to 12

Special Conditions:

Weather permitting

Objectives:

  • Enter waypoint coordinates into a GPS receiver.
  • Use the GPS receiver to locate a hidden cache.
  • Mark a waypoint and place a cache.
  • Become aware of an outdoor sport that can be enjoyed throughout life.
  • Recognize the importance of geocaching etiquette.

Key Terms*:

Cache

Coordinates

Etiquette

Geocaching

Global positioning system aypoint

*See glossary for definations

Materials:

Caches

Digital cameras (optional)

GPS units

Prizes (optional)

Background:

Geocaching is a high-tech game that combines navigation skills, geography, the outdoors and adventure to find hidden caches in the wilderness, suburbs and cities. All that is needed are map coordinates, a GPS receiver and to become familiar with geocaching etiquette.

Procedure:

  1. Confirm that participants can use the GPS units. They likely will need some instruction, so be prepared to teach how to navigate the menu, enter the coordinates for a waypoint and track a set of coordinates. Tell them they will be using the GPS receiver and coordinates to find a cache.
  2. Tell them how many caches have been placed and their objective (whether they are to locate one or more of the caches and what they are to do once they find it). Upon finding a cache, they will sign the log and complete any other instructions found in the cache.
  3. Offer information on the sport of geocaching and refer participants to www.geocaching.com. Also note that several geocaches are on Arkansas Game and Fish Commission locations.
  4. Review the etiquette list. Geocachers have a language all their own. CITO, for instance, means “cache in, trash out.” FTF stands for “first to find.” Explore www.geocaching.com for more lingo or to review rules of etiquette such as:
    • If you take something from a cache, leave something.
    • Sign the logbook in the cache.
    • Register your find on the web site.
    • Don’t leave food, weapons, alcohol or anything harmful or inappropriate.
    • Don’t move a cache (unless instructed).
    • Tread lightly when geocaching.

(Note to AGFC instructors: see AGFC geocaching policy.)

Modifications:

  • Digital cameras may record interesting observations at the cache site
  • This activity can be combined with a scavenger hunt or treasure hunt in which each cache contains a clue or a puzzle piece to lead the group to the next location.
  • Nature mapping could be added as an extension. Participants would draw a map of their route, including information such as prominent landforms, manmade structures, prominent trees or other vegetation to make a “treasure” map.
  • Participants could also reverse the steps by drawing a map and marking waypoints to create their own treasure map to share with another group.

Review:

  • Explain the role of satellites in GPS technology.
  • What are waypoints and how are they used in geocaching?
  • Outline geocaching etiquette.

Resources:

Glossary:

Cache – a small container hidden outdoors for others to find

 

Coordinates – set of numbers specifying the location of a point on a line, a surface or space

 

Etiquette – societal rules governing polite behavior in general or in a particular social or professional group

 

Geocaching – finding caches left in outdoor areas by using a Global Positioning System

 

Global Positioning System – a navigational system involving satellites and computers that accurately transmits location (latitude and longitude), speed and time by calculating the time difference for signals from different satellites to reach the receiver

 

Waypoint – coordinates used by a GPS (Global Positioning System) unit