Geocaching is a world-wide treasure-hunting game played by five million people. If you are looking for a way to extend your catechetical curriculum outside of the classroom, this may be the tool for you. Players create a free online account and then participate in hiding, seeking and discovering one another’s caches using GPS enabled devices. Many smart phones now have GPS capability, or you can buy a hand-held GPS device for your students to share. A cache can be as simple as a notebook and pencil in a plastic bag or as complex as a fishing tackle box filled with “swag,” or collectable trading items. There are even “virtual caches” that are not physical objects, but a set of coordinates that lead to a place of interest.
There are a number of apps available for geocachers, all designed to make this family-friendly hobby more portable on whatever mobile device you prefer: iPhone or Android.
Education Idea: Geocaching utilizes collaboration and problem solving skills and can be applied to almost any curriculum area. Use it in conjuntion with a geography lesson. First, teach about latitude and longitude. Then take your students into the field with a GPS device to find a hidden cache. Use it as an extension of your social studies curriculum. Choose areas of the world in which significant events are happening. Engage students in setting up a virtual cache for these locations. Students will have to compose descriptions of that part of the world as part of the data entered when the cache is created.
Ministry Idea: Wondering how you can adapt geocaching for youth ministry or your catechetical classroom? Look at this example of a geocaching adventure lesson plan, visiting pilgrimage sites in the Diocese of St. Petersburg. Our faith is connected to real people and real places all over the world. Use geocaching to help your students discover these connections can enliven their faith in a way that speaks a language they understand – the language of technology! Geocaching is definitely an “outside the box” Web 2.0 tool, but one that has the potential to engage students and families in hands-on discovery and catechesis.