How to Use GPS Technology to Get Your Kids Outdoors (page 2)

By — Nature Deficit Disorder Special Edition Contributor
Updated on Oct 25, 2010

Other Great GPS Resources

EveryTrail is a free online web 2.0 platform that allows hikers, backpackers, and other outdoor enthusiasts to visualize and share trail trips using GPS coordinate data, digital photos and location-based notes overlaid on interactive maps. Visit

Waymarking is a virtual cache that exists in the form of a location. Depending on the cache "hider," a virtual cache could be to answer a question about a location, an interesting spot, or a task. The reward for these caches is the location itself and sharing information about your visit. A virtual cache should be out of the ordinary enough to warrant logging a visit. Visit

An EarthCache is a special place that people can visit to learn about a unique geoscience feature or aspect of our Earth. EarthCaches include a set of educational notes and the location or the latitude and longitude to find the place. Visitors to EarthCaches can see how our planet has been shaped by geological processes and learn how we manage these resources.  You can learn how scientists gather evidence to learn about the Earth. Visit

More Ways to Use GPS

Groundspeak Inc.

Using your GPS unit and/or written directions provided by the National Geodetic Survey, which are available for review by the public, you can seek out NGS survey markers and other items that have been marked throughout the country. Placed at the top of mountain peaks or in the pavement of a town square, many people walk by one every day. The interesting thing about benchmarks and horizontal control points is that a majority of them are located in plain sight (though largely ignored). Some of these points haven't been visited or documented in a very long time, so you may also be rediscovering long neglected objects of American history as well!  Visit

Humankind Systems, Inc.

Here’s a cool idea that also encourages reading! After your kids have read their books, they can release them “into the wild” and track their progress online through a free book tracking website. According to Ron Hornbaker, President and CTO of's parent company, Humankind Systems, “Sharing books with your friends and neighbors is a natural instinct...what we've done is created a tracking database so that you can see where your books are, and read the journal entries along the way.” Visit

Degree Confluence Project

The goal of the Degree Confluence Project is to visit every latitude and longitude integer degree intersection in the world and to take pictures at each location. The pictures, along with a narrative describing the adventures it took to get there, are then posted on the web site. This creates an organized sampling of the world. Another goal is to document the changes at these locations over time. Although we initially want to visit as many different locations as possible, don't hesitate to revisit a confluence if you're in the area. There is a confluence within 49 miles if you are on the surface of the Earth. To learn more visit


eBird, a project developed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, provides a simple way for birds to be tracked in North America. Enhance the science learning of birdwatching by retrieving information online at any time on your family’s bird observations. The entire historical database can also be accessed to learn what other eBirders are reporting from across North America. The eBird database is used by birdwatchers, scientists, and conservationists who want to know more about the distributions and movement patterns of birds across the continent. Visit

Letterboxing North America (LbNA)

Letterboxing combines navigational skills and rubber stamp artistry in a treasure hunt-style outdoor quest to explore interesting, scenic, and sometimes remote places. The ancient custom of placing a rock on a cairn upon reaching the summit of a mountain becomes art with this activity. Most letterboxers carve their own stamps or team up with an experienced stamp artist. Virtual letterboxes, which don't involve going outdoors, solve clues on websites and find a stamp image or perhaps a virtual logbook. Visit

Travel Bugs

A Travel Bug is a tag with its own unique tracking number stamped on it. The tag is attached to an item - and becomes a hitchhiker – for which the owner invents a goal to be achieved. One Bug's goal may be to reach a specific country, or travel to 10 countries. Travel Bugs are tracked with the help of users who go online and "grab" them or receive them from other users. Each Travel Bug has its own on-line "diary" that mirrors its real world movements. To learn more visit


Business Services Industry. (2007). National study shows GPS Adoption Rates [Electronic Version]. Business Wire.

Louv, R. (2006). Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder. New York: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.

Spencer, C., & Woolley, H. (2000). Children and the city: A summary of recent environmental psychology research. Child: Care, Health, & Development, 26(3), 181-197.

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