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Andrew Alden

EarthCaches: Lessons in Your GPS Unit

By October 13, 2013

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earthcachesEarth Science Week 2013 begins on October 13 with International EarthCache Day. Wouldn't it be nice to take a geologist with you on your outings? The Geological Society of America has been helping bring this experience to geocachers with the EarthCache program since 2004. Today, more than 10,000 EarthCaches exist around the world.

Here's how they work: like geocaches, you get a precise longitude and latitude and then make your way to that spot using your GPS unit. Once there, you don't find a hidden box like ordinary geocaches. Instead you look around, read a geological lesson about the place, carry out a few learning-oriented tasks to prove that you were there, then register your visit when you get home.

Examples I can show you include the amazing tar springs of Carpinteria State Beach, in California, and the Rock Elm impact site in western Wisconsin as well as the one shown in the photo, just a couple miles from my house.

Teachers may find EarthCaching a good way to help educate the public. You could make the world your classroom and its population your class. GSA has a simple set of guidelines at earthcache.org to help you submit an EarthCache of your own.
EarthCache site, Oakland, California — Geology Guide photo

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