Friday, December 14, 2007

Global Positioning System (GPS) in Classrooms

Last October, we made the trip to the National Council for Geographic Education annual meeting at Lake Tahoe. We presented our proposal to introduce Global Positioning System (GPS) technology into South Carolina classrooms.

4.25.1 – CarolinaCaching: A Geo-caching Curriculum
CarolinaCaching refers to an educational geocaching experience. This session will review the process for instructing students in the basics of GPS, the development of an instructional guide for creating navigation courses at individual schools, and the implementation of virtualcaches statewide to instruct students in the unique physical and cultural attributes of those places.
Jerry Mitchell, South Carolina Geographic Alliance; Mark Musselman, South Carolina Geographic Alliance

Today was spent creating a "GPS in the Classroom" package that can be used by a teacher to instruct students in the basics of GPS operation. Along with GPS units that can be borrowed from the South Carolina Geographic Alliance (SCGA), the teacher will have instructions on how to set up an on-campus course for students to practice using a GPS unit, instructions on how to set up a course for use during a field trip, and information on other recreational or career applications for GPS technology.

Although this work is interesting and the final product will be rewarding, it required another day in front of the computer and not outside. With record warm temperatures, we had spring fever in December and were lamenting our indoor prison term. Just then a Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) hit the ground outside of our office window. We had ring-side seats to whatever death was about to occur, but the prey was not obvious. After a few stabs with its talons into the leaf litter, the hawk pulled out a Ground Skink (Scincella lateralis) and swallowed it whole.

Red-shouldered Hawks hunt mainly from perches and eat reptiles, amphibians, small mammals, and birds. As Gary Larson of The Far Side once drew, "Birds of prey know they're cool!"

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