April 27, 2013

Geocaching in Education

I'm not a teacher, but I come from a long line of them, and happen to be married to one as well. As such, I have the utmost respect for our educators and have always been troubled by how under-valued and under-appreciated they are, at least in American culture. But that's a rant for another day.

Switching gears slightly, I've been pleasantly surprised to see the growing use of geocaching as a teaching aid in the classroom. It doesn't take a brainiac to see the broad range of educational applications afforded by our little hobby - everything from math (geometry, algebra and trigonometry) to geography to history and more. Makes me wish I was back in school...

Following are some specific examples I found from educators describing how to integrate geocaching into the classroom:

I'm sure there are many more examples out there, which is pretty impressive considering no one had even heard of geocaching just a mere ten years ago.

Cache, and Educate, On!

April 20, 2013

More Resources

If you, or someone you know, is just getting started geocaching, make sure that you add this REI site to your list of great resources for beginning geocachers. While there is some very helpful information scattered throughout the geocaching.com website, the information provided by REI supplements gc.com's tutorials quite nicely. It covers just the right amount of detail on topics including geocaching basics, etiquette, what to bring, and even a brief history of the hobby.

REI could have easily turned this site into nothing more than an advertisement page for their GPS receiver products, but they've steered clear of that temptation and instead made this one of the best resources I've seen for new geocachers. Certainly bookmark-worthy.

Cache On!

April 14, 2013

Did Hell Freeze Over?

Not sure if I missed the pigs flying or the Earth opening up and swallowing me whole, but apparently I survived finding my first cache using only my smartphone, sans GPSr. I never thought I'd do it, but a situation came up where it made sense to just take along the smartphone: I was going on a walk/hike in a familiar area near my home, and there was only one cache left in the area that I hadn't found. I was pretty sure I knew where the cache was, but I saved the cache information to my Android phone's SD card before heading out, just in case there was no cell service at GZ.

I admit that it was really nice having music to listen to on the walk, a camera to snap a photo at GZ (see above), a phone in case of emergency, and a geocaching app. that pointed me to the cache; all on one device that I could carry in my pocket.

But I'm certainly not ready to throw my Garmin device up on eBay any time soon. I still prefer carrying a unit that only needs a clear view of the sky to accurately locate my position rather than having to rely on hit and miss cell service. And yes, I know that once you get within 10-20 feet of GZ you switch from using your device to using your geo-senses, but I sure do appreciate the Garmin's positioning accuracy compared to my phone's. I also like having the ability to load custom trail maps on my Garmin from sites like GPSFileDepot.

And until recently, the other big advantage my Garmin had over most cell phones was the ability to download  GPS tracks after a long, fun day of caching. But I recently discovered Google's "My Tracks" and loaded it on my Android phone. It's a great little tool that records your path, speed, distance, and elevation while you walk, run, bike, or do anything else outdoors. You can then store your tracks with Google Drive, Google Maps, Google Fusion Tables, or Google Spreadsheets, or export your tracks to external storage in different formats, including GPX. You can also share your tracks via most social networking sites such as Google+, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

It's a great little app., and definitely worth checking out.

Cache On!

April 6, 2013

Some Really Good Hikes

So you've been caching for a while now and you've become quite the avid hiker. And now you're looking for some more challenging hikes than what you've been doing so far. Well, fear not, my east bay area friends, because the East Bay Regional Parks District has just posted a list of ten challenging hikes. These are hikes with over 1,000 feet of elevation gain and range from 6 to 20 miles in length. In other words, plan on spending the day in your hiking boots.

There are some great hikes on this list (the Las Trampas hike into Devil's Hole is one of my favorites), so if you've never been on some of these, or it's been a while since you've done them, then now's the perfect time to get out there, as these areas are also chock full of quality caches.

Cache On!