If you had to invent a question to wrap this topic around, that would be it. In every moment of our waking lives, we're situated somewhere, surrounded by somethings and somebodies. Where things are is a fundamental issue, and because that's so it can lead to some graceful integration of technology into the teaching of many different things.
What technology? GPS, or Global Positioning Satellites. The tools for using GPS are already cheap and will soon be built into phones, cars and cameras. What better time than now to bring them into your classroom?
In this exercise, you'll learn enough about GPS to begin to develop some ideas for educational applications. There's a great WebQuest waiting to be written around the use of GPS. Maybe you'll be the one to do it.
An Online Scavenger Hunt
As preparation, you'll be divided into teams to answer the following questions. You have only 15 minutes. Divide the resources among yourselves and share the answers within your team as you go. The first team to get them all wins Molebash's admiration.
- When was the first geocache hidden?
- What is letterboxing?
- What kind of people live near 37°N 110°W?
- What are some of the features that distinguish inexpensive GPS receivers from the expensive ones?
- What's a waypoint and what's their potential connection with cemeteries?
- Who are Linkie and Screech Dude?
- How do state and national park rangers feel about geocaching?
Resources for Answering the Questions
- GeoCaching - The Official GPS Cache Hunt Site
(Type in your zip code to see what's near you)
- The Degree Confluence Project
- A Unique Picture of the World - BBC
- Using a GPS Receiver
- Oh the Places You'll Go
- Hide and Seek
- Groundspeak Travel Bug
- Garmin Outdoor
- GPS Treasure Hunt Under Fire
An On the Ground Scavenger Hunt
Outdoors we go for the real thing...
Well, this isn't a geography course. Why are we looking at GPS here in this class? Consider this:
- Can you think of ways to use this in the study of local history? In field trips?
- Is there someway to do something with math? Shapes on a map? Clues that involve geometry?
- Travel bugs and writing exercises?
- Can you use the Degree Confluence Project as a starting point for science or social studies or language arts, even without leaving your classroom?
We'll spend a little time brainstorming in class. And some time later, after your brain continues to think about it below your conscious level, you may have a great new idea.
For Further Exploration
There's more to know. Use this as a starting point to explore further. Consider joining the NYGPS Yahoo Group, too, if you're interested in continuing to learn about GPS, and take a look at these sites: