Good GPSr for Schools?

GPS Hardware and Software

Good GPSr for Schools?

Postby addisonbr » Wed Apr 02, 2008 12:12 pm

I know there are more than a couple of GPS-educators out there who can help me with this... My daughter's first grade class is doing a year-long unit studying Central Park, and I was discussing with the teachers some weeks ago about using GPS technology to enhance their experience. Not necessarily just for geocaching, but also to do things like (say) waymark points of interest (trees, bridges, statues, bodies of water, wildlife they've spotted, etc.) so that they plot them on maps later. They are a lucky class in that they have one of the school's three "Smart Boards", which is sort of like a computerized chalkboard; it doubles as a screen for the classroom Mac, so they can load the waypoints in and pull them up in Google Earth and such.

One of the teachers even borrowed a GPSr and found his first geocaches over spring break, near his home town in Northern Alabama. Anyway, they just came back to me and said that the school has a budget for stuff like this and the school-buying-stuff-person wanted to know what GPSr model they should get.

Any suggestions for a GPSr that would be appropriate for this use? I'm thinking kid-friendliness and cost are both going to be salient issues. (I mean, I love - LOVE - my 60csx, but I'm guessing the school would rather have three almost-as-good cheaper models than one 60csx.)

Huge appreciation in advance.
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Re: Good GPSr for Schools?

Postby Tatanka49 » Wed Apr 02, 2008 10:04 pm

I like the e-trex 100 (i have a dozen of them). they list for $119, are bright yellow (harder to lose), fairly easy to use. Can down load and upload coords. Screen is B&W and no maps. Simple at its best.
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Re: Good GPSr for Schools?

Postby addisonbr » Thu Apr 03, 2008 11:14 am

Great, thanks for the suggestion. I saw that the HC model is on Amazon for only $137, which I am leaning towards even though it's a little more expensive... Not for the color so much as the USB connectivity (they have a Mac in the classroom so I think the PC serial cable is a non-starter). I think the kids want to be able to waymark points of interest and load them on the computer to see them in Google Earth, etc.

John, can I also trouble you for your GPS 101 notes that you use for educating the little ones? I may have to get a little involved in the educating process myself, seeing as the teachers are new to GPSrs as well.

Thanks a ton.
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Re: Good GPSr for Schools?

Postby Tatanka49 » Thu Apr 03, 2008 8:56 pm

I'm not sure what HC is. I checked the garmin website and it shows an HC version for the legend, the summit, along with their regular versions. I believe the HC is the new higher sensitivity version. The e-tex 100 used to have the plain and the H (current) model but now only the H is listed on their site. I have an H model and it's my new favorite. I can get signals in alleys, buildings, under trees etc. I think the H and HC are the same features. Save the $$--especially with kids.

Most of my stuff is kind of rustic. I'll send you what I have but you may not understand it.
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Re: Good GPSr for Schools?

Postby addisonbr » Thu Apr 03, 2008 10:45 pm

The model that you have - how do you connect to the computer for downloading waypoints?
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Re: Good GPSr for Schools?

Postby EastVillageFamily » Sun Apr 20, 2008 12:03 am

I have used several flavors of Garmin eTrex for classes of different ages. What I always emphasize is that the purpose of the GPSr is to find your way back to some place that has been identified (tagged), whether its a geocache or the trailhead. For almost 15 years now, I have been taking goups of inner city teens (boys nostly) into the woods, sometimes in snow, and deliberately getting them lost as a community building exercise. The kids have to find their way back to camp and make sure everyone gets there safely. This was how I learned about the GPSr forst, when we added a Garmin GPSr to the exercise. These days I use Google Earth on a Smart Board to show them where they were when we get back home. Recently I gave out coordinates of interesting geological features in Central Park to a several science teachers, and they led several field trips to Central Park using the etrex to lead them to various interesting geological examples. In all of these classroom situations, I don't think you want too many bells and whistles on the GPSr distracting kids from the task at hand. There's always ane guy who will try to push every button to see what happens... I have bought 6 or 7 etrexs on ebay for around $125 each for school, usually from geocachers upgrading. Almost all the kids who have joined me on these trips still remember it as an exciting positive experience. And now many of them point out our neighborhood caches to family and friends while explaining how the GPS system works. A little bit of technology, with a simple interface, goes a long way here.
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Re: Good GPSr for Schools?

Postby addisonbr » Fri Jun 06, 2008 5:50 pm

As a follow-up, we did the GPS workshop today and I wanted to say thanks to both Tatanka49 and EastVillageFamily for their help. Tatanka was gracious enough to loan us a half dozen of his GPSr's for our use and several pages of educational materials, and EVF sent a great .kml file of kid-friendly attractions in Central Park. We wound up sending the kids to the Carousel, then to the Balto statue, and then to look for a temporary "geocache" I had placed a couple of hours before. We also taught the kids to mark their positions, and they recorded several of their own points of interest during their outing. We're assembling that data into another .kml file that the teachers are going to open in Google Earth for Monday's class, so the kids can see that the GPS information can flow in two directions.. Overall it went very well, and it now looks like the tech department for the school is going to get some of the same model GPSr's that we were borrowing today, for use in other classes.
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