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Global Positioning System (ECE)

Page history last edited by Stephanie Satler 9 years, 2 months ago


What is Global Positioning System (GPS)?




Global Positioning System or GPS is a device that provides users with real time positioning and navigation. GPS satellites continuously transmit signals and data. Those signals are picked up by GPS receivers high above the earth, with up to 12 satellites being received simultaneously. These messages include the time the message was transmitted, precise orbital information, the general system health and rough orbits of all GPS satellites (the almanac).This position is then displayed, perhaps with a moving map display or latitude and longitude. Many GPS units show derived information such as direction and speed, calculated from position changes.





GPS can also be used for students to understand more about maps. Students (by themselves or with teacher help) can program the GPS to show an areal view of their school. Time should be given for the children to explore the map.

Tasks could be given to further advanced students to find local landmarks such as a nearby body of water or highway. Students can then use the GPS to find the longitude and latitude coordinates of familiar objects near the school and navigate to them.

Many GPS devices have options for students to “pin” their location. When the GPS is plugged into a computer, students can see on a map where they had traveled. This is a great activity for younger students to learn about maps by taking them on a field trip, “pinning” various locations, then returning back to the classroom to see their trip on a map.

Older students (2nd-3rd grade) can also do this activity but they could focus more specifically on latitude and longitude to plot their field trip.




Geocaching is an outdoor activity in which the participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) in order to hide and seek waterproof containers, called geocaches or caches, anywhere in the world. It is a type of worldwide scavenger or treasure hunt. Many of the caches contain a logbook where the participant writes the date that they found it and sign it with their code name. Other caches contain items that can be traded, such as toys or trinkets, or even items such as a disposable camera to take pictures of the discovering participant.


Geocaches are currently placed in over 100 countries around the world and on all seven continents, including Antarctica. Participants find the GPS coordinates of caches on various websites where geocachers post clues about the caches, such as http://www.geocaching.com, who posted this next video about what geocaching is and how to use it.




Simply put, geocaching is a large scale treasure hunt, something that children absolutely adore. This activity can be modified from simply exploring a new area in order to find an easy cache to more complex experiments with GPS, geography, and cartography. Great deals of the caches are education and are related to the history and/or features of the geology of the region. There are even caches that have already been hidden by children, which make the find more personal and exciting. http://www.meetmeatthecorner.org/episode/a-kids-introduction-to-geocaching.



Low Cost, Child Friendly Geocaching GPS Get Launched. Photograph.

GPS BUSINESS NEWS. 11 May 2009. Web. 03 Nov. 2011.



The activity is great for teaching children about ethics through the Leave No Trace program and the "take one, leave one" idea about treasures in the caches. Most importantly, this activity shows children how exciting the outdoors can be and how to treat nature well. To use, simply find the coordinates of a cache that you would like to explore and enter them into the GPS device. Then, follow the directions that the system tells you. GPS system prices are very varied, from cheaper system with few features to expensive complex systems. Geocaching can even be done with the use of a GPS enabled mobile phone, such as an iPhone or Android.


GPS Drawing


When students walk with a GPS, the device can visually show the walk in accordance to distance. 




Students can try to spell out their name or “draw” other items such as a wind tubulin (as seen above). The GPS can also calculate distance, start and end time, duration, and average speed. This activity requires a large about of open space, but would be a great learning experience for young children to visually see movement in time and space. 


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