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of the Global Positioning System, but it’s the piece that most people are familiar with. There are many kinds of GPS receivers out there. Two of the most common types are the simple handheld models designed for people to take a walk in the woods, and the user-friendly models with big, touchscreens made for driving cars. This lesson focuses on the simpler, hand held models that many people use for geocaching and basic mapping. Each model is different; If you don’t have the User Manual for your particular model, going to the manufacturers website is a good place to start. See Additional Resources for websites for some of the most common manufacturers. Supplies: A GPS Receiver (GPSr), ideally 1 unit for every 2-3 students The Users Manual for your particular model of GPS Receiver A handful of temporary place markers (cones, Frisbees, anything that won’t blow away in the wind An outdoor natural area, ideally a blend of natural areas including forest and field, but any outdoor area will do. Activity I: Starting Off on the Same Page GPSr’s have a lot of settings inside of them that can make them look a little different, so if you are doing this lesson along with other 4-H’ers, it will be good to set a few settings consistently on all receivers. Do This! 1. If you haven’t read your instruction manual yet, this would be a good time to dust it off and flip through those pages. Find the section on setting the “map datum”. Be sure that all of the GPSr’s that your group is using are set to the WGS84 Datum. 2. Now, look in your manual for setting the coordinate format. Different formats allow you to express your location in different ways. It’s like fractions and decimal points; they are different ways to express the same thing. Set your format to hdd mm.mmm Science Checkup – Questions you might ask to evaluate what was learned What would happen if you used a different datum than someone else in your group?
What is the difference between formats? Why are there so many?
Activity II: Where Am I? Where Are You? The most basic functions of the receiver are to record you current location and to mark a different location. Do you know where you are right now? Your GPSr may not… YET! Do This! 1. Turn on your GPSr and let it find the satellites overhead. Make sure there is nothing above you, otherwise, the GPSr may not connect to the satellites. 2. Remember that dusty old manual? Open it up and look up the section about how to record a waypoint. 3. Standing outside in a clear, open space, record your current location. Name your first waypoint, “test”. You can delete this later, but for now, you’re just practicing. While you are marking this location, take a look at the coordinates. On a scratch piece of paper, write down your coordinates. 4. Got the hang of it? Try it again! Move fifty feet away and try marking another waypoint. Name this one “test 2”. Take a look at the coordinates of “test 2”, how do they compare to “test”? Are they the same? If not, are they similar? 5. How accurate is a GPSr? Try this experiment to find out. a. Pick out a nearby landmark (a water fountain, a light pole, etc…) or simply place a place-marker on the ground. b. Have each member of the group take turns marking the location of the land marker. c. Compare your coordinates with the others in your group. How similar are they? It is likely that they will be very similar, but not identical. Why do you think this might be? Remember that your GPSr is communicating with satellites some 12,000 miles away! 6. Remember that scrap of paper that you wrote the coordinates to your original waypoint on? Use your instruction manual and create a new waypoint using those original coordinates. Science Checkup – Questions you might ask to evaluate what was learned Do you think your GPSr is accurate enough for you? Why might someone need their GPSr to be more accurate? Would your GPSr be good for recording the locations of telephones in your home? Why or Why not?
Activity III: How Can I Get There From Here? Once you enter a waypoint into your GPSr, the receiver stores the coordinates for that waypoint in its internal memory. The first step in getting from here to there is finding that waypoint in your GPSr. Do This! 1. Hopefully you haven’t lost that manual yet, because this would be another good time to use it. Look up how to find a waypoint and then look up (in your GPSr) the waypoint called “test 2”. 2. Once you have found the waypoint stored in the GPSr, check your manual for help in how to “goto” or navigate to that waypoint. 3. Take a walk with your GPSr and see how it works to help you go back to the place that you marked as “test 2”. Science Checkup – Questions you might ask to evaluate what was learned How is your GPSr like a compass? How is it different? Does your GPSr consider obstacles that might be between you and your final destination? How do you know? Activity IV: Putting It All Together If you are working with other members, break the group into two smaller groups. Do This! 1. Give each group a place marker of some sort (a cone or a bandana). 2. Each group should take a short walk (no more than 300 feet) and put their place marker on the ground somewhere away from where you started, and away from the other group. 3. Each member of your group should mark the location of that place-marker. 4. Once you have marked the new location, everyone should gather back at “home”. 5. When everyone is back, each group shares the coordinates of their location with the other group. 6. Now, as a group, see if you can find the other group’s place marker!
Science Checkup – Questions you might ask to evaluate what was learned What factors might affect the accuracy of your GPSr? Vocabulary: Coordinate: Any of a set of two or more numbers used to determine the position of a point, line, curve, or plane in a space of a given dimension with respect to a system of lines or other fixed references. (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/coordinate) Map Datum: A set of reference points on the earth's surface against which position measurements are made, and (often) an associated model of the shape of the earth to define a geographic coordinate system. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datum_(geodesy)) Coordinate Format: Any of a number of methods for displaying the coordinates of a given location on earth. Typical examples would include HDDD.DDDDD, HDDD MM.MMM or HDDD MM SSS where H is the Hemisphere (North, East, South or West), D is degrees of latitude or longitude, M is minutes (1 degree = 60 minutes) and S is seconds (1 minute = 60 Seconds).
Waypoint: Waypoints are named coordinates representing points on the surface of the Download a Manual for your GPS at: Earth. (www.geocaching.com) Garmin: http://www8.garmin.com/support/userManual.jsp Magellan: http://www.magellangps.com/support/index.asp DeLorme: http://www.delorme.com/support/search.aspx