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Students use GPS to find buried treasure
Annelise Taggard, a Da Vinci Academy eighth-grader, shows brother Sterling, a second-grader, how to zero out a GPS device Tuesday during a treasure hunt at the Spout Springs School of Enrichment in Flowery Branch. With the help of Da Vinci Academy students, the second-graders used compasses and GPS devices to find a buried treasure. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Second-grade students at Spout Springs School of Enrichment got the chance on Tuesday to find buried treasure. But they got to do more than just follow a map.

Christine Gillespie’s second-grade class divided into groups for the treasure hunt and were led by a student from Da Vinci Academy of South Hall Middle School. However, instead of the traditional paper map, the students used GPS units to help them find the treasure.

"It was for the students to locate treasure using a GPS and a compass ... using technology to find known products," Gillespie said of the hunt.

"We took some of our kids to Spout Springs School of Enrichment to teach the kids an introductory lesson to GPS systems," Gary Martin, technology teacher at Da Vinci, said.

The Da Vinci students are part of a class learning about geographic information science. They helped to set up the hunt for the second-grade students.

"The Da Vinci students were teaching the second-grade students how to use the GPS," Martin said.

"We’ve used a lot of technology..." Gillespie said of her second-grade class. "This was the first time we used GPS."

The treasure hunt was planned by both Martin and Gillespie as a way to teach new technology to the second-grade students and teach leadership skills to the Da Vinci students. In addition, Gillespie said technology skills are an important part of Spout Springs’ mission as a new charter school.

While the activity was on the second-graders level of learning, it also was challenging and fun at the same time.

"Mr. Martin and I discussed ways how we can cross over middle and elementary students," Gillespie said. "We knew they would love the technology... something to keep them interested and learn something."

"They loved having those little GPS units in their hands," Martin said about the students. "They got excited."

The students successfully found all of the buried treasure. After the hunt, they got to trace their steps and measure the length of those steps to the treasure, learning spacial relationships as well as math.

"The kids did great," Gillespie said. "They had a wonderful time. They love being outside. They were excited."

Both Martin and Gillespie hope they can do more projects like this with their students in the future.

"It was good for my students to go out there and show them what they learned," Martin said about the Da Vinci students teaching the second grade students. "I love to go over there with my students and transfer over what they learn to them."

"I would absolutely do it again," Gillespie said of the treasure hunt. "100 percent."


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