Have you heard of geocaching? My husband and I started a couple summers ago and have had a lot of fun with it. In case it's new to you, here's the definition from the official website, "Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location." They are hidden all over public places. Chances are you walk by one every day and don't even know it! Geocaching has been a fun (and sometimes challenging!) activity that my husband and I can do together with our dogs. The drives through the country can be really pretty, and it's led us to discover some new places too.
Here's where the educational part comes in. I decided to hide a travel bug in a cache near our school. Travel bugs are just what they sound like; little metal dog tags with serial numbers that people move around as they geocache. If you find a travel bug, you log it on the website before moving it to a new location. This keeps going and you're able to watch the little bug move through the state, country, and even world. I bought a travel bug and gave it the goal to visit all 50 states. I also requested that people add a fact about the city/state where the bug was placed when the log its location. This reminded me of the popular post card/Great American Mail Race activities, but with a twist.
I'm releasing our bug this weekend so it can get a head start during the active summer months. When school resumes in August, we'll track it as a class. I plan to map its path, calculate distances, plot coordinates, etc. in math while learning geography and state facts too. I'm hoping this will be a fun project that will continue for several years until the bug makes its way back home again. I'm also hoping it might encourage a few students to try geocaching with their families too. It's a great way to get in some family time, physical activity, and learning too!
Here's a video and link to the official website if you want to give it a try!