Tagged: geocaching

The Adventures of Kallista Jake

I received an email late one night last week that I had been waiting for for nearly three years. Back in 2010, I had an idea to do a geocaching project with my students. If you are not familiar with geocaching, the idea is to use a GPS device like your smartphone, to locate “caches” that other geocachers have hidden all over the world. Each cache contains assorted items that folks place inside. [Learn more HERE]

Jake had the opportunity to visit Shanghai during his adventures. Photo by rangerg75
Jake had the opportunity to visit Shanghai during his adventures. Photo by rangerg75

Occasionally, you might find what is called a “travel bug” inside. It’s a dog tag with a code on it that is attached to a trinket. By visiting geocaching.com and entering the code, you’ll discover what goal the owner of the object has for it. If you can help it on its way, take it with you and deposit it another cache as soon as possible.

My students thought it would be fun to send travel bugs to our blogging buddies around the world. We assembled a collection of items to attach the bugs to and I deposited them in some local caches. All but one experienced various adventures over the course of the school year. One of our bugs even made it to Ms. Smith’s class in Canada. We celebrated with a Skype call and they made a wonderful webpage to toast our dragon :-)

The message I received the other night notified me that the last active travel bug from that batch had reached its final destination – a cache located in a forest, near a school, north of Melbourne, Australia. Our bug, named Kallista Jake, travelled over 47,000 miles to reach its goal! It passed through the hands of dozens of geocachers along the way and got a very big boost in milage from a wonderful FedEx pilot named Frank.

Screen Shot 2014-01-09 at 5.29.48 PM
Jake has been around the world – twice!

I’m astonished. I’ve been sending bugs around the world for several years now, but nothing like this has ever happened. The school we sent it to is on summer holiday break now so no one is around to pick up Jake. Hopefully, it will remain safe in the cache until students return.

Kallista Jake!
Kallista Jake!

You can read the original blog post I wrote as we sent off our bugs here. Kallista Jake has his own page on geocaching.com so you can check out his travels. He is currently awaiting retrieval in this cache. If any readers of my blog know any geocachers near Melbourne, please notify me :-)

Do you have any experiences you would like to share about geocaching? It is a great family activity!

You can discover for yourself where Jake is by pasting these coordinates into a mapping website like Google MapsS 37° 54.460 E 145° 21.899

He is located somewhere near this trestle!
He is located somewhere near this trestle!

Olympic Geocaching Opportunity

A Travel bug

As soon as students complete their testing this week we will begin exploring a new project that has been in the works for quite some time. In order to further the geography education of my students I like to develop global projects for them to participate in. One hobby of mine is geocaching – placing “travel bugs” in secret locations identified only by their geographic coordinates. Using a GPS device of some sort, geocachers hunt for these bugs around the world. When found, many of these bugs are swapped out for other bugs and moved on their way to another cache. Bugs are registered on the website geocaching.com and tracked as they travel from cache to cache. Often, owners of the travel bugs generate goals for their items.

I have the opportunity to spend three weeks in the UK during the Olympics this summer and I’ve created a project around my adventure. During my stay, I will be travelling around England, and as far as the highlands of Scotland, “seeding” student travel bugs along the way. Over the coming weeks, students in my class will be bringing in a token of some sort to attach to a travel bug. We will be classifying each bug and develop a database of sorts containing things like mass, dimensions, color, etc. so that we can determine if any of these factors slow or speed up a bug’s progress.

A token with travel bug attached

The ultimate goal of each bug will be to return “home” to our local cache just outside of our school. In addition to gathering data prior to departure, students will be developing a backstory about each bug. Why does their bug need to return home? What adventures would the bug like to have on the return journey? Each bug’s story and goals will be accessible via a unique geocaching.com webpage (example). We will track progress throughout next year and see if any of the bugs make it home and how many goals have been realized.

Maps are automatically generated for each bug

I have five FOUR, Three, TWO bugs reserved for our friends around the world and if your class is interested, or would like more information, please leave a comment below. In order to participate, you will need to send me the item that you would like attached to the bug. I need to receive it by June 15th. It cannot be larger than a box of playing cards and must have some way to attach a travel bug chain to it. See images for examples.

There are, of course, no guarantees that any of our bugs will make it home. However, we will have a grand time tracking their adventures as they scamper across the planet in the coming months. Join us!

SuperScooper Skype

Last week we had a chance to Skype with our old friends the Scoopers in Dunedin, New Zealand. We are sending each other travel bugs. It will be great fun tracking them together as they make their way (finger’s crossed!) across the Pacific. They got a chance to show us “our” bug – a very cute bee. They named the bug that we are sending them T.O.B.I. Both bugs are now in caches awaiting a couple of geocachers to find them and get them moving.

Our geocaching project has been fun this year. We have had a few ups and a few downs. One of our bugs made it to the Huzzahnians in Canada, but another headed that way to the Ripplers disappeared from the first cache we placed it in, never to be seen again. :-(

One of our first bugs, Kallista Jake has travelled over 40,000 miles and is currently in Australia, just a few miles from Kallista Primary School. Another bug is headed to our friends in Ms. Ratzels class in Kansas. It is making progress too. We even tried to send the Scoopers a bug back in September, but that is still in the hands of a geocacher in Fresno.

We look forward to Skyping again with the Scoopers after testing in a couple of weeks!

Geocaching Update

Wow! What an amazing past two months we have had with our Geocaching Project. The students in Ms. Smith’s class have created a special page for their Dragon. Other bugs are headed to New Zealand (Trev’s Tag), Texas (Ramenstein), Australia (Kallista Jake), Illinois (Zion Mystery Sphere), and our latest release is bound for Kansas (John Brown’s Secret). You can keep track of all of our bugs on Mr. Miller’s Bug Tracker Page.

Here are a few statistics for you:

  • Number of bugs released – 6
  • Number of bugs awaiting release – 1 (bound for Mr. Webb’s class in NZ)
  • Number of kilometers covered by all bugs to date – 22,351
  • Number of miles covered to date – 13,888
  • Number of kilometers covered by busiest bug – 15,851 (Kallista Jake)
  • Number of students involved in our project – 200+

Frank flies these type of plane.
Frank flies this type of plane.

Kallista Jake is currently in the hands of a pilot! He has written to us asking if he can take Jake on some more adventures with him . . .

Whoa, ToTo, we’re not in Kansas anymore! How did I get here!?

Hi, all. Let me introduce myself. Currently I am the keeper of the Kallista Jake Travel Bug. I call him KJ. My user name is RangerG/75. I live in Southern California and fly for a U.S. freight company. I got interested in geocaching last year when my oldest son, Erik, introduced me to it. I’ve had a lot of fun caching and having the opportunity to do it all over the world. It’s been my pleasure to drag your bug around for the past month or so. I’ve asked Mr. Miller if I can hold on to him for a little bit longer and see if maybe we can’t add some miles and introduce him, and you, to some new and interesting places.

So, if any of you have questions or comments, fire away! Just remember that I’m old and that you need to use small words and short sentences. And, yes, I do speak Australian! I’ve had the pleasure to visit that great country many times.

G’day, Mates!


He is an instructor and has agreed to answer any questions that you might have. So how about it? Post your questions in the comment section.

Geocaching Project Underway

scoopers01 kallista01

Last week we released two travel bugs on missions to visit project partner schools located in New Zealand and Australia. We’ve also made a new blog to track our trackables and record some fun geography and math activities we plan to do.

The first bug we released is headed to St. Clair School in Dunedin, New Zealand.  Ms. Bee and her class of students will need to become code-breakers in order to determine where “Trev’s Tag” is headed.

The second bug, released a day later, is headed to Ms. Graunke’s class at Kallista Primary School. They are located in the Sherbrooke Forest, east of Melbourne, Australia. Ms. Graunke’s students will need to venture into the forest to find their bug.

Next week, we hope to release three more bugs. One will be headed to Vancouver Island, Canada, another to a high school near Chicago, and a third one to an elementary school in Texas. Please visit Mr. Miller’s Bug Tracker for more information, or to participate in future bug releases.

Geocaching Challenge – Looking for Participants!

We are about to embark on what we hope will be a fun learning adventure and we’d like to invite nine other schools around the world to have some fun with us. We’ve purchased nine “travel bug” identification tags from geocaching.com that we will be attaching to some special tokens from Chalone Peaks Midle School. We would like to send each bug on a quest to reach a different destination. The propossed destination will be a secret “cache” located near a partner school.

A Travelbug
A Travelbug

Each bug will be trackable through this blog and through a dedicated page on geocaching.com.  We will illustrate their progress with Google Maps and Google Earth downloadable files. There is no guarantee that any bug will reach its ultimate destination, but it will be fun tracking their progress. If a bug does make it to a partner school, we would like a photo of it on your blog and then try to send it back this way or hang it in a fun place in your class.

How will this work?

We will place a travel bug attached to a unique token from Chalone Peaks Middle School into a hidden cache near our school. When a geocacher finds the bug, he or she will log into geocaching.com and enter the bug’s code.  The ultimate destination will be revealed as a cache site near your school.

The geocacher that originally finds the bug destined for your school will attempt to place it in a new cache closer to the bug’s goal. It will be up to other geocachers to move it on from there. With luck (maybe a lot of luck!), the bug will arrive at the pre-determined cache site near your school. In order to participate, you don’t need to be a geocacher, but it will help if you can find a local contact to help deliver the bug from its final stop to you. If it does reach you, it may take several weeks, or even months. The fun will be in the adventure and in learning about GPS, trackables, Google Maps, and geocaching.

We plan to have all of the bugs placed in caches by early October. Our campus is located near a popular travel corridor and we expect the bugs to be on their way by the end of October. They will be identified as school projects, which may expedite their travel a bit.

For more information about geocaching, take a look at the video below, or visit geocaching.com. If you would like to participate, please leave a comment or email me directly at jwmiller at kcusd dot org. We have nine bugs available and would prefer they travel outside of California, but we will consider other options or interesting variations.