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Walking in Circles in Kelowna

By Cherrie Gerber

       Last summer I found a challenging-looking geocache description while planning an interesting afternoon with Shannon. This particular geocache involved finding a total of three different locations, doing sums, figuring out how to set a bearing compared to true North, figuring out how many squares were in a road sign, and then calculating the points of intersections between two circles, and then finally finding the physical container and logging the find.
       I knew that this wasn't a project I could do that afternoon, but I really wanted to solve that puzzle. A few days later I logged in the coordinates for the first waypoint into my GPS and headed off to Mission Creek Park. I found Ground Zero and wrote down both dates I found on the sign.  Then I headed home to try to do some math.  It wasn't too hard to figure out which direction I should go from waypoint 1 to find waypoint 2, but I really struggled to figure out how to calculate the distance I should travel.
       A week later I drug Caitlin and Shannon out to search for a sign with squares on it.  No luck. Two weeks later we tried again - this time going much further than we did the first time.  We found a sign all right, but I wasn't sure it was the right sign. I tried plotting two intersecting circles on a google map screen capture, but was quite sure I wasn't very accurate.

I didn't exactly give up, but I did put that particular puzzle away.

       Six weeks later I realized that I needed to teach bearing angles compared to true north to my math 10 class, and knew I needed to find a way to capture the interest of some reluctant learners, and wanted to use my SMART board to help.
       I introduced geocaching to the grade 10 students and then opened the file for this cache.  The students seemed quite interested and learned how to adjust the magnification and then use the screen capture feature of the Smart notebook software to have a map they could manipulate.  They were able to confirm that I had indeed found the correct sign, and did the math to find radii of both circles.  The intersection they calculated looked close.  Next I found an iphone app which calculates intersections of circles and discovered that the students were only about 30 meters off- but across Mission Creek from the actual Ground Zero!
       It wasn't enough to do the book work - we all wanted to actually find the cache, so we planned a field trip for last week. We re-did all our calculations in the field and had a great time. Kudos to the class! You were exactly the encouragement I needed.

I've tried to include pictures which help show what we did.

The first waypoint. Redoing the calculations just in case.


Dancing in the snow to stay warm.

Finding the correct sign for waypoint 2 and calculating the number of squares "of all sizes" so they could find the radius of the second circle. 


Running along the Greenway towards the cache (Left photo).                                                     

Next step: I need to incorporate more of the tools available with Smart technology - and figure out how to convert Powerpoint files to Notebook files! I should be able to use probeware in my Chemistry water quality lab, and then compare our data with that collected elsewhere by other students - or collected at the same place in previous years. I also want to add caching to my Rosario trip.
Every success helps me think of other challenges -- Life is good! 

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