Signed, sealed and hidden

Measured and mapped: Forest Primary School grade six students Drew Inkson, Christopher Joyce, Ella House, Tenali Horton and Jasmin Porteus search out a geocaching location on their GPS devices as teacher Justin Nobes (far left) watches on. Picture: Bodey Dittloff.

Activity. Forest Primary School students have placed their region on the map through a worldwide craze combining mathematics with outdoor activity.

Geocaching involves the use of satellite technology to track down containers that have been concealed in specific locations, with Forest’s grade five/six class getting actively involved in the complex treasure hunt throughout term four.

The concept was organised this year by part-time teacher Toni Popowski, who decided to provide a unique but relevant take on the critical and creative thinking strands of the national curriculum.

“We started off from the point of view of mapping and locations, then went to look at GPS technology and satellites,” she said. “Geocaching was a really good real-life application of it.”

Once caches are created and logged online, they can be found by other users through latitude and longitude coordinates, with containers often including small tradable items and a log book.

With several locations already existing in Circular Head, students were taught how to seek them out using GPS devices, eventually creating two of their own and hiding them in the area for geocachers to find.

After trial runs of using the satellite technology in their own schoolyard, students chose areas of significance in Forest to plant the new boxes filled with school items and a log book.

The geocaches had to be sent off and checked for their authenticity before being officially logged, with Mrs Popowski saying the children were “excited” to find their own creations appear on their smartphone app.

“Now they know about it, they go around and do their own thing,” she said.

“It’s right up their alley that we’re using technology, and a lot of them do it with their family. They love the idea of the treasure hunt and I think they’ve taken ownership of that.”

Since the sites went live in term four, the class has already received positive feedback from geocachers who have stumbled upon their boxes, with grade five/six teacher Justin Nobes relishing in seeing his students embrace the idea.

“When Toni came up with the idea, I’d never heard of it and it was really good to learn something along with the kids,” he said.

A geocaching app can be downloaded on most smart phones, with information on Forest Primary School’s two geocaches – Blackberry and St Bartholomew’s – also available online.

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