Making Sense of Place: supporting schools to develop geocache trails for place-responsive science education

Funded by The Primary Science Teaching Trust.

Collaboration with Clackmannanshire Council and Stirling Council.

Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS handheld satellite navigation devices. The use of geocaching within the delivery of the formal school curriculum remains underresearcher and poorly understood. In this project we sought to understand how geocaching could be applied to that it becomes more educational and science-focused. We set out to work with teachers and pupils to enhance geocaching to deliver purposeful, place-sensitive, scientific inquiry. Our approach was to work with local teachers and bring some particular ideas together to bear on the application of geocaching to the teaching of science in upper primary school settings; the three key ideas were outdoor place-responsive pedagogy, inquiry-based science education, and education for sustainability. Teachers from 7 local primary schools have worked together in three teams and in their respective schools to develop geocaching in order to help pupils: (a) learn about some linked ‘big ideas’ in environmental science (for example, the effect of season on plant growth) (b) connect with the place visited in a new way, and (c) address some wider environmental issue related to developing a more sustainable lifestyle. Through this collaborative inquiry, we have shown in practice that geocaching has the potential to enliven science teaching through catalysing inquiry, taking learning outdoors, making it fun, experiential, locally meaningful, yet globally connected. We have provided proof of concept: recontextualising geocaching for science education is entirely possible and bears rich rewards in terms making learning active, collaborative and inquiry focused.

Total award value £11,016.00

People (2)


Professor Gregory Mannion

Professor Gregory Mannion

Professor, Education

Mrs Ashley Fenwick

Mrs Ashley Fenwick

Teaching Fellow, Education

Outputs (6)


Book Chapter

Mannion G & Lynch J (2016) The primacy of place in education in outdoor settings. In: Humberstone B, Prince H & Henderson K (eds.) Routledge International Handbook of Outdoor Studies. London: Routledge, pp. 85-94.

Book Chapter

Mannion G (2015) Towards Glocal Pedagogies: Some Risks Associated with Education for Global Citizenship and How Glocal Pedagogies Might Avoid Them. In: Friedman J, Haverkate V, Oomen B, Park E & Sklad M (eds.) Going Glocal in Higher Education: the theory, teaching and measurement of global citizenship. Middelburg, The Netherlands: University College Roosevelt, pp. 19-34.

Research Report

Mannion G, Fenwick A, Nugent C & I'Anson J (2011) Teaching in nature. Commissioned Report, 476. Inverness: Scottish Natural Heritage.