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This lesson provided by:
Author:Linda Hardee
System: Huntsville City
School: Highlands Elementary School
Lesson Plan ID: 33108

Where on Earth Am I?


Geocaching, a high tech treasure hunt, is a fun and educational way to teach latitude and longitude.  

Students will learn about those imaginary lines and find their place on our planet.

This is a College- and Career-Ready Standards showcase lesson plan.

Content Standard(s):
SS2010(3) Geographic and Historical Studies: People, Places, and Regions1. Locate the prime meridian, equator, Tropic of Capricorn, Tropic of Cancer, International Date Line, and lines of latitude and longitude on maps and globes.
Local/National Standards:  
Primary Learning Objective(s):

The students will use a GPS unit to locate a specific point on earth.  

Students move from place to place following the lines of latitude or longitude.

Additional Learning Objective(s):  
Approximate Duration of the Lesson: 61 to 90 Minutes
Materials and Equipment:

GPS unit or a phone enabled with GPS technology, more than one if possible

Masking tape

Floor with evenly spaced tiles or measured sections


Labels with Prime Meridian, Equator, Tropic of Capricorn, Tropic of Cancer, International Date Line, your hometown and other points for places you have studied

World map with lines of latitude/longitude included

A predetermined point with a small item at the coordinates--it might be covered slightly to prevent accidental discovery.

Technology Resources Needed:

Computer with Internet access


Prepare the room with masking tape in equal distance (1 foot squares) N-S or E-W.

Brightly colored yarn at equal intervals the other direction N-S or E-W.

The equator is latitude, the poles are longitude.


1. Line one or more students outside the series of masking tape lines. This should be oriented appropriately (North in your room should also be North).

2. Explain that this is the equator. They should step to the first line, that's 10 degrees, the next is 20, the next is 30. Our school is at approximately N34 degrees (teachers adapt to your own coordinates).  

3. Have another student or students start the other direction - this is the Prime Meridian. They stand outside the first block. The first line is 10 degrees, then 20, etc., all the way to between 80 and 90, we are about 86 degrees (written -086W).

4. The students should intersect. They found an actual point.

5. Show the students a GPS. Pre-program the coordinates of the hidden container. Tell the students they are going to hunt for the treasure.

6. Now outside, show the compass arrow on the GPS unit so they can walk to the treasure. You might want to hide several items and give each group a different set of coordinates if you have more than one GPS unit, if not, each group will wait for their turn.

7. Each group should find their item and then choose a spot to hide a cache for the others to find.  Students should walk with the GPS unit on to observe the rapidly changing latitude and longitude. When they have selected a spot (ideally away from buildings and metal to avoid interference), they should record the coordinates. A GPS unit should be allowed to "settle out" to gain reliable coordinates. Most GPS units will take many readings, so give it time.

8. Check the coordinates again by entering the coordinates on the GPS and see how close you will get to the selected spot. Students enjoy trying again and again to lead their classmates to their selected spot.

9. Do some problem solving to figure out why the coordinates might be off (metal, atmospheric interference, etc.). Get lots of feedback from the students, they really will enjoy this high tech hunt.

10. Return to the classroom to grid and place markers (with degrees and labels for the Prime Meridian, Equator, Tropic of Capricorn, Tropic of Cancer, International Date Line.)  Label the lines of latitude and longitude on maps and globes.

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Assessment Strategies:

The assessment is for each group to choose a location, verify and record the coordinates, and place an item at that point. Each group should attempt to locate the other group's item and this should be done outside for greatest accuracy.

As a culminating activity, a geocache might be placed (with principal's permission) on or near school grounds. This could be published on if desired, to be available to the general public or kept as an unofficial, educational opportunity.


Students will use to find other geocaches close to their school. Generate some data: how many are within five miles?, a half mile?, 100 miles?, etc.  What is the most common type: traditional or mystery?  Which size container is most frequent: micro or virtual, for example?


If any student needs additional help, find a map with degrees of latitude and longitude and assist the student in finding specific countries or cities based on the coordinates you provide.

Each area below is a direct link to general teaching strategies/classroom accommodations for students with identified learning and/or behavior problems such as: reading or math performance below grade level; test or classroom assignments/quizzes at a failing level; failure to complete assignments independently; difficulty with short-term memory, abstract concepts, staying on task, or following directions; poor peer interaction or temper tantrums, and other learning or behavior problems.

Presentation of Material Environment
Time Demands Materials
Attention Using Groups and Peers
Assisting the Reluctant Starter Dealing with Inappropriate Behavior

Be sure to check the student's IEP for specific accommodations.
Variations Submitted by ALEX Users:
Alabama Virtual Library
Alabama Virtual Library

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The University of Alabama at Birmingham
The University of Alabama at Birmingham
The Malone Family Foundation
The Malone Family Foundation
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