The freshmen at Mount Desert Island High School got to know their new campus in a unique and fun way during their first week of school in September; by using GPS (Global Positioning System) units.
Throughout the day each class participated in a geo-treasure hunt, in which the students used GPS units to navigate to a series of specified locations around the school grounds. After they found each place with the GPS, they answered questions relevant to that particular location.
The questions addressed in the hunt were based upon the five themes of geography-location, place, region, movement, and the interaction between people and their environment-tying this outdoor activity to work the students are doing in the classroom.
The geo-treasure hunt was the first step in bringing Geographic Information Systems (GIS), a computer mapping and spatial data system, into their curriculum, along with web design and digital storytelling. They will use these three technologies to address local issues in the community in the coming school year.
A team of teachers and students from the school learned these technologies over the summer at a week-long CREST Institute, allowing them to train their fellow teachers and students upon returning to school this fall. CREST, funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, is an Island Institute project that uses placed-based education to provide students and teachers from 16 island and coastal schools opportunities for hands-on technology education, along with career awareness in information technology fields.
Students described the geo-treasure hunt as fun and interesting, and their teachers, encouraged by the enthusiasm of the students for the GPS use, are excited to explore additional ways they can bring technologies like these into their classrooms.