Roukema finds hidden treasure in new learning activity

Buies Creek, N.C.- Besides skill, geocaching involves the elements of surprise and adventure. It was only logical that Dr. Lorae Roukema, coordinator of Middle Grade Education at Campbell University, would seize upon this high-tech treasure hunting game as a learning activity for her Social Studies Methods students.

Geocaching is a game played throughout the world by people equipped with GPS devices. The idea is to locate a hidden container, called a geocache, outdoors and then share your experiences online. The implications of the game for teaching are practically infinite, Roukema explained.

“Students must have active and engaging lessons. Studies show that they have to move, change activities every 12 minutes,” Roukema said. “They need imaginative learning projects and hands-on activities. With geocaching, we’re doing some really neat things to teach our students how to teach in an active manner.”

A brief summary of one of Roukema’s lesson plans has student teams using clues from their readings to find caches filled with primary documents or pictures relating to the Revolutionary War Era.

“After finding the caches, the teams determine what they have and how the articles relate to North Carolina history,” said Roukema. “They participate in research to determine the impact of the documents on the formation of the state and national government.”

Roukema’s students are also required to create their own caches, replete with intellectual treasure relating to the North Carolina Standard Course of Study.

“They can use ‘You Tube’ video, pictures of documents, any clues they want to include in their caches,” Roukema said. “Then they must create learning objectives relating to the caches, such as evaluating and researching the treasure and analyzing its historical impact.”

The outcome of the geocache treasure hunt doesn’t end with Roukema’s students, however. Lesson plans developed by the students from their geocaching activities will be posted on the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction web site for use by other teachers.

“This stage of the assignment provides students with an authentic purpose for creating the lesson plans,” said Roukema. “Students are really excited about this activity. It actively engages their minds and imagination.”

Photo Copy: Dr. Lorae Roukema and members of her class.