An EarthCache is a special place that you can visit using GPS technology to learn more about the geology of our planet - and what is more there are over 20,000 EarthCache sites around the globe. So that means almost everyone can visit one that is close to their home or school...and if there is not one to visit, you are invited to join the game and create one yourself. The program's slogan - Let the Earth be your teacher - is very appropriate, because that is what millions of EarthCache visitors have done around the globe.
A traditional Geocache we discovered in Colorado, USA.
An EarthCache is a special type of geocache that makes up the amazing international treasure hunt game of geocaching. To get involved in this game, all you need is access to a GPS (handheld of part of your smart phone) and a login to geocaching.com (thats free!) Traditional geocaches have a container you find, open and sign a logbook. Then you log your find online. With an EarthCache you read the information online, visit the site and then undertake a task that helps you to understand the geology at that site. Once you have that complete, you can then log your find. Its great fun ...and you learn something along the way.
Learning about black sand at an EarthCache in Hawaii.
Creating an EarthCache takes a bit of research. Find a cool geological site, get permission to bring people to the site (this is so important, especially if you are on private land or in a national park) the write some educational notes for visitors to follow so they learn about the geology of the site. Then you develop a simple but location-based geology logging task - like measuring the size of a fossil, or the direction or thickness of a layer, or describing the color of some feature - and add it to your listing. You then use the submittal process through geocaching.com and your submission is reviewed by a team of volunteers. Once published, it is available for other geocachers to go visit and learn from YOUR EC site.
You are never to young to learn at an EarthCache.
Here Ollie is visiting the very first published EarthCache site in Australia.
For more about EarthCaches - including all the guidelines on how they are published - visit www.earthcache.org. The site even has a free educators guide on how to use EarthCaching in your home or school classroom. This program was developed by the Geological Society of America in partnership with Geosching.com and partners around the globe.
So what a fun way to have your students produce a science activity for others! What a wonderful project to have then visit some EarthCaches, then create their own that is reviewed and published - then visited by others in the community!