Learn & Have Fun with GPS

What is it? How can I use it with my class?
By Jane & David Runneals Central Area 4-H Tech Team

This presentation was given to Nevada Middle and High School teachers as part of their year-end technology training on 6/4/09 by Jane & David Runneals.

Special thanks to Barb Roberts, U of IL Extension, for assistance with some of the information/slides contained in this presentation

What You’ll Learn Today
• What is GPS? • How does GPS Work? • What can we do with GPS? • How do I use a hand-held GPS? • 2 Hands-on Activities • What can I do with GPS & GIS in my class? • Learn even MORE – Resources to Help

What is GPS??

Global Positioning System
**GPS can pinpoint the latitude/longitude of a location anywhere on earth

GPS = Global Positioning Systems

• What is your position in the world? • Latitude and longitude coordinates identify location
(Courtesy U of IL Extension)

How Does it Work?
• 24 Satellites circle the earth 2x/day
– Do we need 3 or 4 to pinpoint our location??? – You only need 3 satellites to find latitude and longitude, but you need 4 satellites to find latitude, longitude AND altitude

More detailed info. at:
• http://www.nasm.si.edu/exhibitions/gps/work.html • http://scign.jpl.nasa.gov/learn/gps2.htm

What Can I Do With It?
• For Navigation:
– – Mark waypoints – learn abt. lat/long Make a map with the marked points

• For tracking something over time:
- Mark location you want to go back to – ie – monitor tree health - Water Quality Testing – do every year or more-check at same place each time

What Can I Do With It?
• For Fun:
– Go geocaching – Identify and record an earthcache with your class

– (special section for teachers)

– Have a class scavenger hunt --with a purpose!

How Do I Use a GPS?
• Garmin eTrex Legends
– – – Features (2-page user’s guide) Accuracy – usu. w/in 10-30 ft. How To Use • follow handout

What you need for your GPS
TWO free software programs:
– EasyGPS - use this program to download marked waypoints off your GPS Receiver

– MN DNR Garmin site – use this program to convert GPX files to KML files for mapping
http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/mis/gis/tools/arcview/extensi ons/DNRGarmin/DNRGarmin.html

TODAY = Hands-On GPS Activities
A) GPS Scavenger Hunt
– Find the marked waypoints around the school – Answer the questions on the sheet

B) Mark & Map Waypoints
- Mark 2-3 waypoints, use EasyGPS to download, then use ArcExplorer to map them

Marking a Waypoint

Process Activity
• What did we learn?
– – – – Mark a lat/long waypoint Map a waypoint Use of Easting/Northing units to navigate How cool a hand-held GPS unit is! Power in your hand!

• How could I use this with my class?
– If I modified it –
A) Cache In/Trash Out activity – (find “treasures” or landmarks while cleaning up a park/cemetery) B) Class Adventure outings – mark educational locations you want the class members to find. OR Service project idea:
– Help GPS mark trails for a camp/city or co. park, etc.

C) Set out your own class “trackable item” – travel bug

How we use GPS in 4-H
GPS – - Set up Scavenger hunts for the public • State 4-H Camp – trail marking; GPS hunt • Story Co. Fairgrounds & State Fair Activities - Trackable travel bugs with “missions”

GIS Mapping Projects –
Service Learning Projects & Maps Work with ISU GIS Lab & professionals Present at ISU’s GIS Day & ESRI Educators User’s Conf. in San Diego - 7/09 – Assist with 2-Day GIS/GPS Educator Trng. - 4/09 – – –

• Technical & Computer Skills – GPS, computer • Problem Solving Skills • Serving our Communities • Developing partnerships • Leadership • Presentation Skills • Teamwork • Connecting with other like-minded groups
nationwide • Other Great Stuff!

SKILLS we’re learning with 4-H GIS/GPS

Ways to use GPS in School that would use GPS technology A) Discuss careers

in their work – (beyond the obvious cartographers) B) WHERE GPS Technology is used - Vehicles & Ag Equipmt./Precision Agriculture - Military, Surveying, Recreation, etc. - Mapping out community infrastructures – precise locations of utilities, fire hydrants, etc. C) As a class, figure out where the “Confluence” of the closest lat/long is to Nevada - lesson ideas at: YOUR ideas – --please share


GPS Use in School
• ArcGIS Explorer and/or Google Earth
– Free program downloads. Fun to explore here or pull GPS waypoints in.

• Augmented Reality –
– Use Mscapes or HARP to program interactive activity using GPS points • PDA’s avail. thru Heartland AEA (Denise Krefting)

Other Ways to Use GPS
• GIS Mapping work
– – – Geospatial (where on earth am I – lat/long) Information (marked points/geocodes) Systems (using a map to help it make sense)

• Hawaii – 1st State in US to have all their schools set up
to use GIS mapping

Getting Started

• What I need for my class:
– GPS Units – (don’t forget extra batteries!) – Lesson/activity – • Your Own Idea – around the school, in the
community, etc. • Web Resources: 1 idea---– U of IL Extension/4-H lessons/curriculum: www.extension.uiuc.edu/lawrencerichland/ (under Just for Teachers tab – geospatial resources)

– A Computer w/ Easy GPS loaded (to download waypoints) • To load pre-marked points on everyone’s GPS

GPS Resources
•GPS Units –

– Story Co. Extension Office (e-mail Eldon Bensen to reserve 2 kits [20 units] for FREE!)

or call: 382-6551

– State 4-H E-SET Office (has 2 kits to reserve also) • Holly Bignall: hbignall@iastate.edu or 294-2078 • Jay Staker: jstaker@iastate.edu or 294-8417

- Heartland AEA Office – Science website (has 3 kits): http://www.aea11.k12.ia.us:16080/science/kits.html

GPS Resources •People

– State 4-H SET Office & Story County Extension Office – Story County Conservation – Jerry Keys & Carol Williams (BOTH excellent resources – Jerry for GPS info. & Carol for project ideas) – Jane & David + Central IA Area 4-H Tech Team – contact at: david@runneals.com or janerun@iastate.edu – Iowa Geospatial Education Community:

GPS Resources

•Books/Articles: just a few to get
– – – – GPS for Dummies (avail. at NPL) The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Geocaching GIS for Dummies Google Earth & GPS Classroom Activities Intermediate Science: Grades 5-8 (Spiral-bound)

– Thinking Spatially Using GIS – find
discounted at: http://www.gisetc.com/products.html

GPS Resources

this link: http://

A few ideas to get you started at


They include:
– Geocaching – www.geocaching.com – Earthcaching – A geographical site run by
GSA– www.earthcache.org

– Itouch Map - http://www.itouchmap.com/
• (Maps and Utilities for the PC, Mac, iPhone, iPod touch
and Smartphones)

– U of IL Extension --Geospatial:

(lessons under the Just for Teachers category)

More Website Resources
• http://scign.jpl.nasa.gov/learn/index.htm
– (HS level and above – CA GPS Education Module)

• My Wonderful World (Nat. Geographic):
– http://www.mywonderfulworld.org/

• NASA’s Earth observatory:


More Website Resources

GIS/GPS info.:
– http://www.eschoolnews.com/resources/gis-and-geographic-inquiry/

• ISU Extension-Geospatial resources –
Quick Task Sheets
– http://www.extension.iastate.edu/gis/tasksheets

(amazing shots of earth!) – http://www.earthkam.ucsd.edu/

• And a link there specifically for students./teachers:


More Website Resources
• Google for Educators (for EVERY subject):
http://www.google.com/educators/geo_class.html AND Google Earth Lessons: http://gelessons.com/

GIS Resources: 3 David wants to share
– http://www.extension.org/geospatial%20technology – http://www.kmlfactbook.org/
– http://www.data.gov/catalog/category/0/agency/0/filter//type/k

GPS Resources
• YOUR Turn to Share……… see handout for ideas • Some Lessons to look at:
– ESRI’s ArcLessons:


• Measure circumference of the earth at:


– Heartland AEA (will also tell you which curriculum standards are
met through GPS work)
links:http://www.alicechristie.org/geocaching/index.html http://www.aea11.k12.ia.us/science/GPS.html


Successful Geospatial Curriculum Strategies
• Success story – geospatial
technology program in Santa Barbara, CA

•EAST Initiative: Multi-faceted tech program in schools across the US

DO “GPS” This Summer
• Start Small - make a plan to incorporate just
ONE GPS-related lesson into your curriculum next year (use the “People” resources if needed) • Connect with the IA Geospatial Education Google Grp. – David can set you up • Go Geocaching with your family/friends or class! (Call David – he’s always up for it!!! Several in Nevada or set up your own or use our idea from today’s activities) • Visit the Traveling GPS Adventures display in the Quad Cities….

GPS Traveling Exhibit
More fun & learning abt. GPS at: http://www.gpsmaze.com/ “GPS Adventures” Traveling Exhibit Putnam Museum – Quad Cities NOW thru Sept. 7th (Great Student/Teacher/Parent GPS info. avail. on this site too!)

What You Learned Today
• What is GPS & how does it work • Where is it used • How to use a hand-held GPS • What can we do with GPS in the classroom • Resources for more information • GPS is fun to use and offers many learning
opportunities for you and your class

Learn & Have Fun with GPS!
Thank you for letting us share with you today!

• Questions?? Let us know how we can help:
– Jane Runneals: janerun@iastate.edu – David Runneals: david@runneals.com

Lastly - A Tech-Related Freebie
One AMAZING Site all Teachers Need to Know About:

We suggest signing up for the FREE daily e-mail which has 3-4 new free sites highlighted every day. A VERY techie teacher puts all this together in “layperson’s language” - it’s wonderful stuff for your classroom (grouped by subject)!
(David & I just had to share this site with you! If you can’t find something useful on here to use with your class, you aren’t looking hard enough!) 

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