GPS receivers are relatively inexpensive. A basic model is about
$100. The unit should include these features: a base map, 12 channel
receiver, approximately 20 hours of battery life, computer connection
cable, carrying strap, and waterproof. Other features to consider
are mapping options, additional memory, compass, altimeter, and color
screen. These additions will cost more, but may better meet your
Map trails, find treasure caches, and
solve problems by using a Global Positing System (GPS) with your
students. GPS technology is made possible by twenty-four U.S. military
satellites orbiting the earth that transmit signals to a receiver.
This data provides the location and the current time for each of
the satellites. The receiver calculates its position based on where
the satellites intersect. Data from at least three satellites is
necessary to find a two dimensional position and from four satellites
for a three dimensional location.
Build a foundation of knowledge with latitude and longitude concepts.
Then, read about GPS and tap into some great lessons. Finally, hide
treasure boxes around the schoolyard and have your students use GPS
receivers to find them or take a field trip to locate a cache in
your community. Learning about geography with GPS can lead your students
to loads of cache.
GPS: A New Constellation
Learn about the history and uses of GPS from the Smithsonian. Concise
descriptions and illustrations help tell the story that began in
1978 when the first Navstar Global Positioning System satellite was
launched. Older students will find this site a good starting point.
Find Your Declination
For those who need to know the difference between
magnetic North and True North for a specific location, this site
instructions on how to fill-in the form at NOAA’s National
Geophysical Data Center. Once you have your declination value, another
page gives information about how to use it. Advanced users will find
this site very valuable for learning how to adjust bearings and chart
Encourage students to explore the world around them through Earthcaching.
Use latitude and longitude to find locations and see how the earth
has been shaped through geological processes. Find early photos of
geographical locations and post them to the Web. The Geological Society
of America promotes educational forums that undertake a particular
task. Small grants are available to qualified individuals for Earthcaching
projects in National Parks or public lands. Hunt for NGS survey markers
in your community. As you track from place to place share your stories
in Groundspeak Travel Bugs.
Geocacher University is highly recommended for the beginner who has never heard
of geocaching or used GPS. Start by reading the tutorial and basics of how
to play the game. These are extremely well written and easy to follow with
lots of tips. For Palm owners there is a section under resources titled Palm
Stuff that links to GPS. In addition, there is a store dedicated to geocaching
where you can purchase t-shirts, hats, and stickers.
Visit the premiere Website on geocaching where you
can locate a variety of caches in your area by typing in your zip
your finds by setting up a free account, and participate in online
forums. Learn about travel bugs, surveyor’s benchmarks, the
history of geocaching, and the latest news. There is also a guide
to purchasing a GPS unit. This site will become a mainstay in your
A waymark is a physical location that contains unique information.
Waymarking categorizes these locations and gives them “a voice.” For
instance, you might locate historical markers and post information
about them along with
photographs. Or you could locate the local library and include a map with hours
of operation. Waymarking makes it easier to search by topic. Some of the categories
are Capitol Buildings, Historical Markers, and First of its Kind. When you
arrive at the site, click on Getting Started. Instructions for creating or
finding waymarks along with FAQ sheets, glossary, and other valuable resources
are provided. Contribute to the growing database by locating interesting markers
in your home town.
Your Longitude Game
PBS provides information about John Harrison and how he solved the
navigation problem of sailing the open seas. Compare the challenges
of the 1700s to the challenges of today. Read what scientists believe
are our greatest challenges. Set sail and find your longitude as
you travel the seas.
This interactive game provides the latitude and longitude of places
in the world along with a clue. Users pinpoint these locations by
moving the grid to the correct position. Picture postcards reveal
the place name. Learn more by dragging the postcards to your album.
Play many times to find a variety of places on the map and to improve
your speed and accuracy in finding latitude and longitude.
Degree of Confluence
The goal of the project is to visit each of the latitude and longitude
integer degree intersections in the world, and to take pictures at
each location. The pictures and stories are posted on the Website.
This is a great place to see the lay of the land from the lens of
people around the globe.
The Globe Program
GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment)
is a worldwide hands-on, primary and secondary school-based education
and science program. A wealth of information, resources, and activities
on mapping and charting can be obtained through membership in the
program. An excellent GPS investigation with teacher guide and student
worksheets is available from the site. Teachers and other educators
who wish to lead students in GLOBE need to attend special workshops
in order to fully participate in the program.
Lessons and Activities
This is a great place for teachers, kids, and families to gather
ideas. What you will need, where to go to find information, and favorite
caches highlight this Website.
Educators and students can benefit from the vast resources found
on this site. It provides information on how to take advantage of
the technologies of the Geographical Information System and the Global
Positioning System. Links, lesson plans, and classroom resources
may be found through taking online courses and viewing projects that
have already been field tested and used by educators. The educational
portal and discussion board provides information to teachers regarding
in-service opportunities. Register and share information with teachers
using GIS and GPS.
for Technology and Teacher Education
The Center for Technology and Teacher Education provides activities
on using Global Positioning System Activities. By using handheld
receivers students can determine perimeters of polygons, distance
and speed. Receivers may be used to determine distance and area of
polygonal plots, and the number of satellite signals needed to determine
latitude and longitude on the earth. Activity descriptions, guides
and resources are included.
and Seek (pdf)
GPS Hide and Seek is a complete lesson to use with students. Print
the PDF file that includes a student worksheet and complete directions
for assisting students in finding waypoints and latitude and longitude.
USGS and Science Education
The US Geological Survey provides scientific information and online
resources that include lesson plans, maps, and data to help educate
about natural resources, natural hazards, and geospatial data. Educational
resources are organized by grade level. Lessons include the GIS Lab
and GPS Class. The U.S. Department of Interior and the U.S. Geological
Survey have provided a wealth of information and resources.
GPS in the Classroom
Using GPS in the Classroom is a forty minute lesson that includes
teaching the applications of using GPS, global scientific collaborations
that use GPS, using the Internet, a global mapping experiment, and
a worksheet for students.
The site of the U.S. National Geography Standards
offers a multitude of lesson plans, activities and atlas maps.
Don’t miss the
interactive adventures. Register for a free monthly educator e-newsletter
for updates. Students will enjoy seeing the National Geographic Kids
News for interesting stories.
National Geography Standards
Standard 1: How to use maps and other geographic representations,
tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report information
from a spatial perspective
Standard 2: How to use mental maps to organize information about
people, places and environments in a spatial context
National Technology Standards
Standard 1: Basic operations and concepts
• Students demonstrate a sound understanding
of the nature and operation of technology systems
Standard 5: Technology research tools
• Students use technology tools to process
data and report results
Standard 6: Technology problem-solving and decision-making tools
• Students use technology resources for solving
problems and making informed decisions