Online geocaching course to be offered in the fall

Paola Pelaez, Staff Writer

A new physical education online course being offered this fall at Hudson Valley involves students using GPS coordinates to find different hidden “treasures.”

“The treasurers, to start off, just wanted to hide [caches] and be part of something bigger later on. And they did just that, capturing over one million caches in 2010,” said Colleen Ferris, interim department chair of the physical education department.

The online course’s title is “Geocaching” and can be summarized as a “modern day treasure hunt,” according to Ferris.

Students will be asked to engage in the wilderness and still incorporate technology, such as using a smartphone or a handheld GPS to track down the treasures.

The treasures include small items such as little toys, stickers, or possibly even batteries.

“[The fun in it is] how far of a distance it’s come. Having so many participants within this organization, a tiny toy can be travelling all the way to Maryland or across the other side of the world,” said Ferris.

The students must first download the app onto their smartphones or can use a handheld GPS. These devices will then give exact coordinates on where it is the participant must look in order to find the treasure.

The item should then be dug up from the ground. Once the student obtains the item from the box, they must leave something of theirs in the box so that the next contender may find it.

After students can dig up a decent size hole and bury it within a different box. Eventually that same object will make its way through long distance travels somewhere completely different.

Ferris said, “What’s cool is that through your login onto this organization’s website,, you can track your object everywhere it goes.”

This same method to keep a track of what you have buried will also be used to grade students.

Though the planning of this class is still under construction, Ferris said, “The basic idea would be to track these students to see how many objects they’ve found, how far they’ve gone out to look for these things and from there be able to give them a grade.”

“If I see a student that goes beyond a certain ratios then I know the student is both perseverant and committed to this class. They’d deserve to get a good grade,” said Ferris.

There are different rules to follow in this course and they can be found on the geocaching website, but Ferris provided one rule, “While you’re hiking looking for one of the treasures, make sure there aren’t a lot of people around witnessing you digging, because then absolutely everyone will begin doing it in a careless fashion creating one big mess.”

Ferris wants students to enjoy themselves while taking this online course. She believes it is a great way to get kids moving and into the outdoors while still on their devices.

“It’s kind of like a trick where you guys end up actually doing exercise without realizing it,” said Ferris.

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