I’ve had the opportunity this school year to pilot a project to use GPS receivers with students at the elementary, middle, and high school levels in Richland County School District One. The funding was provided by Ida Thompson, Director of Instructional Technology Services. The project has definitely been the highlight of my year. I had no idea when I started that it would be so much fun! Here are a few of the projects that I’ve collaborated with teachers on this year:
Judy Spear’s third grade class at Bradley Elementary School learned about latitude and longitude and compass reading as part of a South Carolina history activity. We planted questions around campus about South Carolinians who were important during the Civil War. The students were divided into groups and they used the GPS receivers to locate the questions. The groups answered the questions after returning to class. A second part of the project involved sending a travel bug and hitchhiker around to different regions of South Carolina. We tagged Bradley, a dragonfly, with a Groundspeak travel bug tag, and left him in a cache that the class created. Students brought in items to place in the cache. They also wrote a letter telling the cache finders about where Bradley wanted to travel. Bradley made it to the sandhills and coastal regions before disappearing in a horrible cache theft. Before his disappearance, the students had a great time following his adventures on the geocaching.com website.
Stacy Allendorf’s sixth grade science classes at Crayton Middle School learned about plants using the GPS receivers to navigate to different locations on campus. They recorded observations about plants and trees in each area.
Another Crayton teacher, Carol Lumpkin, had her eighth grade geometry students use the receivers to determine the slope of a hill. This was a great real-world application because the principal needed to know if it would be possible to plant grass seed on the hill. The students had a wonderful time thinking about how to best determine the slope.
I’ve also had the opportunity to provide staff development on GPS receivers for teachers in our district. This summer, teachers used the receivers to hunt for “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader” questions. The teams had a great time using the receivers and answering the questions.
In all of these activities, the teachers and I were able to incorporate great resources like United Streaming videos and Google Earth.
Try geocaching with your family this summer and then begin planning how you can use this great tool in the classroom.