This week, the Grade 7 and 8 students of St. Michaels University School embarked on a quest to find 18 geocaches hidden across the school campus. Geocaching is an interesting way to get outdoors and find real life treasures using a Global Positioning System (GPS). In order to find the coordinates for the GPS system, each group of three students was given a quiz with cleverly written math problems and equations designed by the Middle School Math department.
“The excitement and joy of finding a geocache and getting one step closer to solving the puzzle drove us to strive to find more.”
Once the group solved the math problems and entered the coordinates into the GPS system, the GPS would point an arrow in the direction of the geocache.
When the students got within a meter of the radius of the geocache they had to search and find where it was hidden. Some were in plain sight and some were very cleverly concealed. Each geocache had on its lid a letter and a number. The number indicated the position of the letter in an eighteen-letter phrase. The geocache also had another quiz which helped find the coordinates to the next geocache in sequential order.
This activity challenged us both mentally and physically and scattered us across the school campus searching eagerly for geocaches. The excitement and joy of finding a geocache and getting one step closer to solving the puzzle drove us to strive to find more and more geocaches until we finally found all the letters and solved the puzzle. One could tell when a group solved a puzzle just by listening to the shrieks of excitement that came from the members of that group. We enjoyed this activity thoroughly and were thrilled to know that the Middle School Math department was finding new and more enjoyable ways to help us learn Mathematics.
The class did not just allow us to use the good weather and exercise to our advantage but also helped us learn the use and function of a real GPS device and let the students revise what they had done in previous years in an enjoyable way. I personally appreciate the way the Middle School is finding new and revolutionary ways to catch the attention of students in important subjects like Math. Instead of just repetitive sums and textbook techniques to solve the problems the Middle School Math department chose a hands-on learning approach that all the students appreciated and liked. On the whole, geocaching was a fun-filled new activity that reviewed old and new concepts and which the students enjoyed and would most certainly love to do again.