EarthCaching for visual treasures


An Earthcache is a visual treasure, a sight to behold, a treat for the eyes. You navigate to an earthcache using GPS coordinates. On arrival you will be presented with a visual phenomenon. This is usually a natural phenomenon but it can include man made beauties such as murals, buildings or structures. Once you find the earthcache you will be able to download supporting information and fascinating facts (via Aurasma, QR codes, weblinks or a good old fashioned notice board).

Suitable for

All ages who can follow simple instructions or directions on a mobile device.

What you need

IPad or iPhone with GPS and the Geocaching United Kingdom app installed (or similar), or a Garmin GPS device.

What you do

Decide what your natural or manmade cache will be. It could be a local beauty spot, an interesting building, or an unusual perspective, for example.

Measure your GPS coordinates using your mobile device with GPS capability.

Design the description and fascinating facts that will be available to upload or appear at your Earthcache. It should be factually correct and inform the reader accurately about the history, process, or meaning behind the cache. Consider using a QR code to link to a website, a blogpost or a spoken description created using Audioboo or

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Select image to read about Balmullo’s QR Safari

National curriculum links

Computing- are responsible, competent, confident and creative users of information and communication technology

Physical Education KS2- take part in outdoor and adventurous activity challenges both individually and within a team

Geography- understand the processes that give rise to key physical and human geographical features of the world. Communicate geographical information in a variety of ways.

Art and Design- produce creative work, exploring their ideas and recording them.

English- write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences.

Learning Benefits

Learners will be given opportunities to appreciate the hidden treasures all around them and invite others to do the same. Recognising and understanding geographical formations or appreciating perspective and are fundamental to the learning here. Children will benefit in collaborating to produce their earth cache and develop their speaking and writing skills in developing the virtual description to accompany to their earthcache.

Taking it further.

  • You might design a virtual visitor trail around your school or grounds.
  • Alternatively you could record the GPS coordinated whilst on a school visit and on return to school design the information that visitors or explorers might need to know.
  • If it is a structure or sculpture your earthcache might link to consider creating a series of before, during and after pictures visualising the creative process.
  • Why not create your own virtual zoo, world tour, tree trail, or ghost walk?
  • Find out more on GeoSociety’s Earthcaching website.

Here’s an example of a sculpture trail around the University of Northampton grounds created using the iPad app Haiku Deck:

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Crack the Code


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Image shared by John Martin CCby2.0 


The activity takes learning outdoors to uncover a series of geocaches each of which contains a cipher to decode and perhaps a small treat with instructions to find the location of the next geocache.

Suitable for:  KS2

What you need:

A Mobile GPS device such as the Garmin. Or a iPhone or iPad with 3G and a geocaching app installed.

A selection of coded messages for pupils to decode and solve. Each message reveals a set of coordinates for the next location.  Waterproof containers (caches) to store the messages. The final cache includes a certificate or reward.

What you do: 

Explain to your pupils that they are about to decipher a secret message which has been hidden around the school grounds.  Ideally, they should work in groups of 3 or 4.  Depending on numbers, it might be sensible to create a number of different trails.  Each group must collect 5 hidden caches and use their GPS receiver to move from one cache to another inputting the coordinates of the next location each time they find a cache.  The coded messages must be deciphered in order to receive hints as to the next location. The final cache may include a certificate or reward.


Explore the school grounds to find suitable locations to store each of the caches.  Ideally, these will be hidden from view and a little challenging to find; they could even be camouflaged.  Locate the co-ordinates of each location and record these.  Prepare  the caches to include a coded message which can be deciphered to reveal a location hint and the co-ordinates of the next cache. You could use a a range of coding techniques:

Here are some examples of codes:

Learning benefits:  

Pupils will understand more about encryption and coding and learn to relate this to the computing curriculum.  They will work in teams and learn how to collaborate, listen and respect the views of others.

Taking it further:

Geocache trails may be linked to key computer scientists in history, giving opportunities to refine their research skills and to validate their findings.  More complex codes such as binary, hex, and ascii could increase the challenge for more able learners.

Useful links:

Geo-caching guide from the National Trust

Background to the Enigma Machine and World War 2 codebreakers