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Last Updated: Jan 23rd, 2011 - 06:37:27 

Lesson Plans  

Teaching Geography With Geocaching
By Joseph Kerski, Geographer USGS
Apr 1, 2006, 11:04 PST

Joseph Kerski 

Box 25046 - MS 507 

Denver, CO  80225-0046 USA 

Telephone  303 202-4315


A GPS device and a hunger for adventure are all you need for high tech treasure hunting.  At, you will find the latest treasures, or “caches,” in your area, how to hide your own cache, and information on how to get started in this fun and exciting sport.  Geocaching is an entertaining adventure game for Global Positioning Systems (GPS) users.  Participating in a cache hunt is a good way to take advantage of the wonderful features and capability of GPS receivers.  Educators could hide geocaches with their students right on the school grounds!

Individuals and organizations have set up caches all over the world and share the locations of these caches on the Internet.  GPS users can then use the location coordinates to find the caches. Once found, a cache may provide the visitor with a wide variety of rewards.  All the visitor is asked to do is if they take something from the cache, they should try to leave something for the cache. 

The word “Geocaching” represents geo for geography, and caching for the process of hiding a cache.  A cache is used in hiking, exploring, and camping as a hiding place for concealing and preserving provisions.

GPS is all around us:  Archaeologists use GPS to mark dig sites and specific artifacts within them, historians use GPS to map historic sites, military historians use GPS to mark troop movements on battlefields, genealogists use GPS to mark gravesites and abandoned cemeteries, cartographers use GPS for mapmaking, E-911 crews use GPS to find accidents and residences, utilities personnel use GPS to map and plan gas and electric lines, and thousands more applications exist.  What better way to have students conduct field investigations than by using the same tool that these scientists, engineers, and other professionals use everyday on the job?

As of January 2003, there were 39,267 active caches in 159 countries.  From 8 to 15 January 2003, there were 21,168 new logs written by 5,843 account holders.

Educational Applications

Students can learn about the following through Geocaching:


Geography--coordinate systems (latitude and longitude, and other coordinate systems such as UTM and state plane), maps, and become familiar with the school grounds, local area, or region. 


Mathematics—angles, distances, triangulation, and direction.


Field Work—How to work in the field and collect data.


Main site for Using GPS for Math, Science & Social Studies Instruction:

U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Geological Survey
Rocky Mountain Mapping Center
URL: /public/outreach/geocaching.html

© Copyright 2006 by

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