by Megan “Spyro” Strand
“Stop, put down your GPS and look.” Whenever I give these instructions I always think of the Ferris Bueller quote: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” It’s true, often our students are criticized for always having their faces down, looking at an electronic device, but what if that electronic device encouraged them to stop and look around? Geocaching, one of my favorite programs at NESS and a hobby of mine, requires students to use electronics to explore the world around them.
Geocaching is a game in which you use a GPS, or GPS enabled phone, to navigate to cleverly hidden containers called geocaches. There are millions out there waiting to be found. Geocaching started in early 2000 and since over three million geocaches have been hidden. With millions of active geocachers, as we’re called, the hobby has become very popular.
Geocaches are hidden everywhere, in fact you probably have walked past a geocache and not even known it. They range in size from as tiny as a pencil eraser to as big as shed! When hiding a geocache, it is recommended that you hide it in a place that you want someone to go. A beautiful view, and interesting feature, or somethings else of interest at the geocache location is encouraged. Geocaching has certainly taken me to beautiful places!
Last fall, NESS took 18 homeschool students on a geocaching adventure around Stonington. The students were taught how to read cardinal directions, lines of longitude and latitude, how a GPS works, and then went on a geocache hunt. Of the ten geocaches in Stonington Borough, the students found four. Each time students were encouraged to get within 30ft of the geocache and then put down the GPS and look around, because if you don’t “look around once in a while, you might miss it!”