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Our Next Generation Of Geocachers

By Fran Lovell, Land Information New Zealand

Scott Taylor-Beech – pictured above – may only be eight years old but he’s already a treasure-hunting expert who uses a handheld GPS receiver loaded with internet map data to track down prizes hidden all over New Zealand.

He and fellow enthusiast Jack Braddick, also 8, are teaching their year four classmates at Wellington’s Ngaio School about the internationally popular, hi-tech game of geocaching.

Teacher Adelle Broadmore says the school has added geocaching to its year four maths curriculum to help teach map, compass and co-ordinate skills using the classroom computers. They will have their own treasure hunt in the school grounds to find hidden caches sometime this term.

Scott and Jack – shown right describing a geocache to his classmates – are exceptional examples of a generation that has been growing up immersed in digital technology since they could place a finger on a keyboard, says Mike Judd of the New Zealand Geospatial Office, which is based at Land Information New Zealand (LINZ).

As Jack, a very reflective little boy, explains: “It improves what you see. It improves how you see.” He doesn’t just look at scenery these days, he analyses it for likely cache hiding places.

Mr Judd, below, was at Ngaio School on May 10 to help the children use the maps on the LINZ website. The maps are interactive, allowing users to layer information – such as walking tracks –  on top of basic topographical maps.

Growing Up Digital is one of the themes of the international Digital Earth Summit being held in Wellington this September. Hosts LINZ and Wellington City Council launched the summit on May 8 to start raising public interest about how digital location-based information can help cities to better manage their resources.

*For more information, see Land Information New Zealand’s website. Photos by Marty Melville.

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