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Geocaching project means fun learning for GES students

Kendall Jones, Kimberly Daigneault, and Jayden Barton took part in a geocaching program at Gilford Elementary School, even making their own geocache. (Erin Plummer) (click for larger version)
October 17, 2012
A group of fourth graders got a hands on lesson in computers, geographical coordinates, and GPS technology recently, all while having fun in the outdoors in the school's geocaching program.

In geocaching, people from around the globe will hide containers in certain locations and post the coordinates of their cache online. Geocachers will use GPS technology (from a smartphone or a GPS) to locate the caches. Once they find the caches, they post about their finds online.

Students at Gilford Elementary School took part in a geocaching program organized by principal Danielle Bolduc and computer teacher Dave Stevens.

Bolduc herself has done geocaching for years, logging 16. She started doing geocaching with children in 2003, when her first son was young.

Bolduc said geocaching gives students a great learning opportunity while also learning more about their community and spending time in nature.

"I love the idea of connecting technology with the outdoors," Bolduc said. "They would be into something that would take the kids outdoors. I figured geocaching would be perfect."

Fourth graders Jayden Barton, Kimberly Daigneault, and Kendall Jones actively took part in the program, even making their own geocache.

Jones said she has a friend who does letterboxing, an activity similar to geocaching where participants leave decorated letterboxes in locations to be found. Jones said the group was going to try letterboxing until they heard about geocaching.

All three registered with geocaching.com under their own usernames, minding internet safety by not revealing any names or personal information in the process. They also learned more about latitude and longitude, coordinates, triangulation, and how to use a GPS.

The girls used a kayaking GPS belonging to Jones' father. Daigneault said their first time using a GPS resulted in them traveling in circles before getting the hang of it.

Barton said they looked online to locate geocaches in Gilford and found many of them around town in many locations from neighborhoods to more wooded areas.

Barton said she found the first one, but it took her a while to locate it with the help of Jones' mother. She eventually found it embedded in the wooden post of a guardrail.

"When we got back, mom said, 'Jayden, you found it!'" Jones said.

They found another geocache in a farther location with Daigneault finding it under brush. They also found geocaches near one of their houses and by an aunt's business.

The three of them eventually decided to make their own geocache.

"We wanted to do it because we were wondering how much fun it is to make your own geocache," Daigneault said.

They collected various items and finding an appropriate container to put them in. They tested the container for durability against the elements by putting it under a faucet and submersing it. Jones said they initially tried a pencil box, but it did not stand up to the tests. Eventually they found a container that did.

"We tested it so we knew it wouldn't get wet in the ground," Barton said.

Their geocache is located on the nature trail near the beaver pond and listed on the national registry on geocaching.com.

The girls said they had fun with the geocaching project. Jones comes from Needham, Mass. and said activities like this were not commonly done. She said kids only spent time with the principal if they did something bad, though this school was much different.

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