Introducing Children to Geocaching

I really enjoy Geocaching it is that thought of being able to be a kid again I think, looking for the treasure and sharing it with others via the net, talking about it, showing off photos etc. 

We've been working on Geometry this term so looking at grid co-ordinates and finding about about direction, rotation fits quite well with this unit.  It's also a follow up to our camp earlier in the year when children were introduced to a GPS for use within a survival situation.  The children had to find there way around the camp grounds picking up essential survival items along the way.

All that aside, how did I introduce it?

1. I used Google maps & Google Earth, I let the children loose in these two programs finding their own houses and different landmarks around our school

2.  I set them a shape finding challenge, they had to find and label at leasst ten shapes in within the Auckland area including the geometric attributes within the description of the shape.  Here is one of the maps they have created, they're still working on it.  You will probably need to view the larger version of the map to get all the shapes they have included.

View Computer 2 Shapes In Auckland in a larger map

The idea for this and the following activity came from this blog post

3. Treasure hunt time, the children were introduced to GPS co-ordinates and we talked breifly about what they were.  Then I asked them to find interesting parts of Auckland and mark down the co-ordinates for their classmates along with a question like - What happens here? or Why is this place important to....?  We'll be sharing these soon as they aren't quite finished.

4. I took them to the Geocaching website and found the caches that were close to our school.  They instantly recognised one of the photos in a cache full of travel bugs.  I asked if they'd like to meet a travel bug and of course they do so I went and found the cache took a few photos and bought a travel bug back to school.

5.  I have them hooked, there are about 6 students with hand held GPS units at home that are very keen to get out geocaching this weekend.  So we've set up a class account, found the next cache for me to visit and droup of the travel bug and also found caches for the students to visit.

Where to now??
Finding out what a GPS actually does, how the co-ordinates work and how they fit within the world.  Talking about cache locations, procedures, and aiming to release our own travel bug and hide our own cache.  They may not have learnt too much about grid co-ordinates yet but it's a hook I can use to move them along a little further and it's something that is going to get some of my most reluctant children outside moving during the weekend!! 

Any other ideas would be greatly appreciated.  Are you a geocaching class?  We'd love to hear from you, what you're doing, caches you've found etc.