Global Positioning System

Global Positioning Systems (GPS) is a navigational system that helps you find your way. GPS technologies involves the use of satellites and recievers such as the one found in your car, like Garmin, or even on your cell phone. This video better helps you understand what GPS is.

In summary, GPS works by communication between satellites that are in the sky and an earth bound receiver. There are at least three satellites above each GPS unit at a time no matter what the weather is or where in the world you are. To communicate, satellites send down a beam to the receiver and calculate a three-dimensional location that includes latitude, longitude, and altitude. GPS can be used to help you find a specific location like restaurants, an ATM , or stores. GPS is also used to generate directions for walking, driving, flying, boating, and even golf. GPS can also gives you the quickest route to your destination by geography or time.

Different types of GPS applications include:

Onboard Navigation - This is the most basic type of GPS. It's the one found in a car.

Links Navigation - This GPS application will recommend what club you should use for what hole and maps out the sand and water traps.

Marathon Navigation - This GPS application helps runners train for marathons and even counts the calories burned.

Marine Navigation
- This GPS application informs you of high and low tides, water depth, location of sand bars, etc.

An excellent source of information on how GPS is applied can be found at the Expert Village Video Series.


Geocaching is an outdoor treasure-hunting game in which the participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers (called "geocaches" or "caches") anywhere in the world ( It is the GPS application most commonly used in schools.

One example of how it can be used in the classroom-learning environment is by having a scavenger hunt around the school yard. This can be used to solve a math problem. Students are given clues as to where to go in the school yard, when they arrive at that point they record the coordinates using a hand held unit. They repeat this several times. Then they return to the classroom and based on the recorded information plot the resultant geometric shape and calculate the area of that shape. Here is another explanation of Geocaching in the classroom.

GPS Hardware

There are many sources for where you can purchase your GPS equipment, but this site is the best.

One interesting piece of equipment which may be useful for cost conscious schools is Microsoft Streets and Tips.

Last updated Feb 24, 2009 5:31 am

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