Monday, October 1, 2012

The Virginia Geocoin Adventure

The Virginia Geospatial Extension program (VGEP), in partnership with VirginiaView and the National Geospatial Technology Extension Network (NGTEN) has recently developed the Virginia Geocoin Adventure, a geospatial learning activity. The activity is appropriate for informal education, such as 4-H groups and scout troops, as well as formal educational settings such as middle and high school classrooms.

The Virginia Geocoin Adventure is an experiential geospatial learning activity that uses the hobby of Geocaching. Participants hide a geocoin – a small trackable coin – in a geocache and then “follow” their coin online as it changes locations when geocachers move it to other geocaches. Participants will learn to use a GPS receiver while placing the geocoin, and increase their geospatial awareness through coin tracking.

The Virginia View Geocoin
Additionally, there are 4 learning lessons linked to the activity that explore environmental issues and geospatial techniques. The additional activities include topics on invasive species, watershed health, landscape ecology, and remote sensing. These activities utilize free software (Google Earth) and lead participants in experiential activities that range from an aerial photography scavenger hunt, to taking basic measurements, to assessing watershed boundaries.

Virginia Trackable Geocoins are available from the Virginia Geospatial Extension Program for educators and groups (complete the online application here). In addition, Geocoin Adventure Getting Started Guide is available online at  In Virginia, educators can check out a GPS kit from local 4-H offices if they do not have access to a GPS receiver. Other organizations also provide GPS receivers and associated resources for educators as well, including several of members of the AmericaView consortium.

The Virginia Geocoin Adventure is a starting point for incorporating geospatial learning into a variety of settings in an accessible, hands-on, and engaging way. The program could easily be altered to fit other states and educational objectives.