On August 30th, 2013 I tweeted out a pic showing the contents of the bag I was carrying and my clipboard. I stated how I was setting up my QR Code Geocaching course for my staff team building activity. Little did I know how much interest would be generated from this one tweet. In response to the questions and emails I have been getting I wanted to write up this blog post to explain the process and show how I set it up.
I originally set up the QR Code Geocaching course for my high school PE students. We used GPS units that I was able to borrow from the Saskatchewan Parks and Recreation Association www.spra.sk.ca (@SaskParksandRec). In our provincial curriculum there is an alternative environment outcome where we want students to enhance their learning by becoming confident and competent in multiple movement activities within different environmental settings. One way I had my students reach this outcome was through Geocaching with GPS devices.
You may be wondering “what is geocaching?”. According to the official geocaching website www.geocaching.com, “Geocaching is the real-world treasure hunt that’s happening right now, all around you. There are 2 212 268 active geocaches and over 6 million geocachers worldwide”! I will say that my QR Code Geocaching activity is a modified version of a real Geocaching adventure. Check out the geocaching website for more information on how to get started! They have a great PPT and brochures that you can hand out to your students!
How did I setup my course? I hide 8 caches (small tupperware containers) around our school grounds and gave each group long/lat coordinates to a different cache so they would all start looking in different areas. They plug the coordinates into the GPS unit or app (Motion-X GPS) from their smartphone and then “put red to bed” to find the next cache. Once they find the cache they will see a QR Code attached to it. They are to scan it using their smartphone app (i-nigma) and complete the google form linked to it. The form asks for the students/group name and shows a picture as to where the cache is supposed to be located (in case the previous team’s strategy was to move it to try to get ahead, the group can then move it back). Once the student clicks on the submit button, they will receive the coordinates to the next cache.
Now you may be wondering, why not just link the coordinates to the QR Code… or better yet have the next coordinates on a piece of paper in the cache? I thought of that but I wanted some way to track my students so I knew if they made it to each cache or not (without having to follow them around). I know you could use coloured markers hidden in the cache container, colour coded for each cache, that they would have to take and bring back. But then they would have to carry them around and since they will have their phones in their pockets they might as well use them in a positive way!
How did I make the forms work? I created a form for each cache. I did this because when you submit a response the submitted response message will have different coordinates attached to each cache. So I have 8 google forms, and 8 google form response sheets. I didn’t want to go back and forth between the response sheets to see if they made it to each cache or not (that would take up way too much time). I wanted to find a way to put all the info from the 8 response sheets into one spreadsheet that could update as the students submit their forms.
I went to Google + and posted a question on a community board asking for help. I had a lot of responses and ideas. One gentleman told me to watch his video as it had the info in it that I was looking for. The function I was looking for was called IMPORTRANGE (for example =IMPORTRANGE(“0AlK5dFAwIGg2dGxoNGduMXZ6RGktT09aMjh3UXJneWc”,”Cache1!B5:B200″). This function takes what you have in one sheet and brings it into another spreadsheet. So now I can type this function into the cell that I want, add in the correct information and Tada… All the info from each form response sheet is in my main “complete cache tracking” spreadsheet. This allows me to check out who made it to what cache in real time, and be updated with how they are doing.
Check out the video I made on how to set up the “complete cache tracking” spreadsheet using the IMPORTRANGE function.
You can also check out the Geocaching YouTube playlist I created with some great videos by Matt Pomeroy (@Physed_Pomeroy) and Brian Lewis (@gymovers).
I have done this activity with my staff and students a few times now and I have had time to reflect on what works and what doesn’t work. Some may ask, ”Is the google form necessary?”. That is a great question and one that I have been pondering. My goal this year is to have my students get as much activity time in class as possible. So does having them take an extra 30 seconds to fill out the form make sense? There are 8 caches so that means 4 minutes of not being active. It may take you a bit of time to set up the forms for your classes and sometimes it takes up to 4 minutes for the spreadsheet to update. Are the forms necessary?
What are your thoughts on Geocaching? How would you setup your geocaching course with your students? Would you use the forms? I would love to hear your feedback!