Sixth-grade students headed to Grant Park on Wednesday, October 24, for a geocaching experience. Middle school geography teacher Carly Carey led her students outdoors, incorporating experiential learning in her lesson plan. “We spent the first term becoming familiar with the five themes of geography, one of which is location,” said Carey. “Elements of location include latitude, longitude, intersections, and coordinates.” Carey used geocaching as a tool to aid in the understanding of absolute location. “Now, N 39° 38.336 W 0840° 10.431 isn’t a random coordinate,” said Carey. “It is a geocache that students found themselves in Grant Park.”
Geocaching is an outdoor activity in which participants use a GPS to seek items called “caches.” Caches are hidden by others and their locations are submitted online to a universal geocaching site. Geocaching seekers then use a GPS and coordinates to locate the registered caches.
“I hope the sixth-graders connect classroom learning to the real world,” said Carey. “Geocaching encourages students to become self-sustaining learners. Through trial and error, groups must find the hidden item.” Caches are containers with interesting trinkets–nothing of substantial value since the focus of geocaching is the process.
“It was an adventure,” said Nelly Rose ’19. “It was neat to discover that learning can feel like recreation.”