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Thisweek Online: St. Michael’s eighth-graders go geocaching

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Marsha and Silent Bob
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Joined: 02 Sep 2003

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2005 8:48 am    Post subject: Thisweek Online: St. Michael’s eighth-graders go geocaching Reply with quote

St. Michael’s eighth-graders take a stab at survival skills, orienteering and Geocaching
Posted: 9/30/05

by Peggy Nitchals
Thisweek Newspapers

Eighth-graders from St. Michael’s Catholic School enjoyed a beautiful day outdoors Tuesday. Not only were they able to relish one of Minnesota’s dwindling warm days at Lakefront Park, but they were also learning.

For the past two years, teachers from several subjects have joined forces to give the students a chance to get outside and learn about survival. Social studies, language arts and math is woven into a curriculum that few get to participate in.

During the field trip, students were challenged to think outside the box. With language arts teacher Becky Strupeck, students pretended their space ship crashed on the moon. They have 15 items that can be salvaged from the crash site ranging from dehydrated milk, loaded pistols, a compass and a life raft.

The students then had to think about what purposes the items could have for them — and although they have purpose on Earth, they might be worthless on the moon.

The activity is an exercise from NASA, which rates the items from useful to useless.

Strupeck said the exercise is about consensus building for the students. The students first try to figure out what to take by themselves, then with pairs, groups of four and then the group as a whole.

With Shirley Gray, social students teacher, students take their chances with orienteering. Orienteering is land navigation. Students had several points they had to identify by following a detailed elevation map. The maps showed the lay of the land, as well as several key structures. Students had to orient themselves to figure out where the points were located in the park.

Thirteen-year-old Sean Miller said he liked orienteering the best because, “I like walking around and trying to find things in the woods.”

Friend and orienteering partner Drew Muelken agreed.

“I like nature and the woods,” he said of the special field trip.

Taking orienteering one step farther, math teacher Don Langley brought students into the 21st century. Global Position Technology, or GPS, units were used for the first time to find eight different caches of candy.

Geocaching, a now popular sport, is about playing detective. GPS satellites are used to find positions of caches, but the satellites only relay the longitude and latitude of the sites — the students had to find the caches within a 30-foot radius of where the units told them they were.

Langley said he first used GPS technology during the Gulf War. A Marine lieutenant, Langley trained officers who, he said, sometimes struggled with the use of the technology. The students, however, picked it up quickly.

The course Langley mapped out for the students would be ranged an intermediate level course for the military, he said.

Langley said the exercise helped students learn about distance, direction, scale, problem solving and unit conversion.

Peggy Nitchals is at

Sad state of affairs.
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