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South Carolina Geographic Alliance Global Positioning Systems: Starting a GPS School Club
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  1. South Carolina Geographic AllianceGlobal Positioning Systems:Starting a GPS School Club Kimberly Terry Crowders Creek Middle School Clover, South Carolina

  2. What is Geocaching? • An entertaining adventure game using handheld GPS devices • Visiting places that you would otherwise never go • Searching for hidden treasures! “GEO-“ for geography “-CACHING” for the process of hiding a cache

  3. What is a GPS device? • Technology that uses high-tech Global Positioning System satellites • Handheld device that includes maps, a compass, and uses latitude and longitude coordinates to pinpoint exact locations

  4. How does it work? • By logging into the Geocaching website,, you can download specific latitude and longitude coordinates for cache locations. • Input the coordinates into a GPS device, and the device will lead you to the cache’s location within a few feet! • Then you use clues to find the location of the cache…the treasure!

  5. What is a Geocache? • A geocache can be one of many things: an ammo box filled with fun things that you can trade, a magnetic key box that is attached to something metal, a film canister, a tiny magnetic container, or just a place that you visit and learn about • It usually contains a log book or sheet to sign. • It might have items that you can trade!

  6. Travelbugs • Travelbugs are items of your choice that you attach a “dog tag” to. • You choose its destination, drop it off in a geocache, and track it online as it travels its course!

  7. How much does it cost? • Money-wise…only the cost of the GPS devices! Signing up for a membership at is free. • Time-wise…the more time you put into it, the better your program will be!

  8. Possible Activities • Learn about the history of navigation • Introduce different types of maps • Introduce concept of latitude/longitude • Introduce GPS technology (with Google Earth!) • Train students in the use of GPS devices • Design travelbugs/track travelbugs • On-campus practice • Off-campus field trips • Hide geocaches during off campus field trips

  9. Considerations when starting a club Scheduling What days will you meet? Will you have a set schedule (ex: every Tuesday afternoon) or will it be a variety of days? Students How many students will you include, and how will you select the ones involved? Will you have more than 1 team? Suggestion: 1 team per 10-15 students

  10. Considerations when starting a club Equipment How will you get your equipment? Does you have money in your school budget, or will you need to apply for grants? Suggestion: 1 GPS device per 2-3 students Support Staff Do you have any other teachers who will help? Are they familiar with using GPS devices and geocaching? Suggestion: Hold training sessions for support staff prior to student participation.

  11. Considerations when starting a club Field Trips Will you take off-campus field trips? Where will the field trips be? Suggestion: Check for local geocaches. How will you transport the students? Does your district have transportation available? Do you have a required format for permission slips? Communication How will you notify the students and parents about the club? Suggestion: Hold an information meeting for parents to explain geocaching and the club’s objectives.

  12. Considerations when starting a club Will you set up a profile for your students? Will you let them help you come up with a team name and the profile information? Are you allowed to post photographs of your students on the internet? Will you just search for already hidden geocaches, or will you hide some of your own? Make sure you follow procedures on for hiding geocaches.

  13. For more information on starting a club… • Contact Kimberly Terry at • Other resources: