Not all interdisciplinary units involve hands-on technology, wandering around the school yard, and picking stickers or other treats at the end.
On Thursday, about 55 sixth-grade students at Youngsville Elementary Middle School (YEMS) experienced geocaching courtesy of Environmental Education Specialist Jen Moore of Chapman State Park.
Each group had a hand-held global positioning system (GPS) unit programmed with initial coordinates. Using those, the groups had to find a hidden clue, punch in new coordinates, and continue.
Alanna Hultberg (left) and Ellie McCluskey use GPS devices to try to find a hidden geocache.
Zane Olsen, as the first to find, gets the first shot at looking through the geocache.
After four clues, the students had all they needed to find the cache Moore had hidden on the grounds.
"We used a GPS," Alanna Hultberg said. "There were coordinates in it. We had to find clues to solve a mystery."
"We had to go to different spots with the cards," Ellie McCluskey said. Each time they found a card "we had to change to different numbers."
Zane Olsen had been geocaching once before and it had been years. But, he was still the FTF - first to find - the cache.
"I went over there and I just stood there," Olsen said. He didn't shout and point, his teacher, Melissa Landis, had told him not to. "It wouldn't be as fun for other people," he explained.
The two-day geocaching unit had many benefits for the students.
"It puts technology in their hands," Landis said. "They practice latitude and longitude, critical thinking skills - the GPS unit will only take them so far."
In addition to the obvious science involvement, students are also practicing math, language arts, and occupations, she said. "It's all across the curriculum."