Example Cache – Alien Invaders
This cash design looks at the role of invasive species in woodland settings.
This temporary ‘way marked’ cache location was in a wooded area near Pathfoot building at the University of Stirling. There are several surrounding Spruce Pine trees in this area, making Grey Squrriels and half eaten pine cones a common sight. There is an open, somewhat flat area within this small piece of woodland which is ideal for carrying out the planned tasks and activities. In addition, this site is close to the Pathfoot building, which means there is a very short travel time to this site. The final activity for this site, discussed below, asks children to record the number of Grey and Red Squirrels they see on the campus. This site’s closeness to the university building is intended to allow for this geocache to be visited early on in the pupil’s day of geocaching, allowing pupil’s adequate time to complete the final take away activity.
The contents of the geocache include:
- Task and information cards (sequential cards which are intended to be read out by the teacher who will lead the activities)
- ‘Alien invader’ matching activity cards
- Four follow up activity cards
- Grey and Red Squirrel identification cards (to help with the take away activity)
- A sign in sheet and pencil
The activities (found on the task and information cards) are as follows:
- Ask pupils to look around the immediate area for wildlife, or signs of wildlife (ideally, pupils will either spot some Grey Squirrels or discover eaten pine cones).
- Once completed a discussion on what pupil’s know about Grey Squirrels can take place, followed by brief explanation of Grey Squirrels being an invasive species, what invasive species are, and how Red Squirrels are native species and suffering from the presence of Greys (all this information is on the cards).
- Next is the ‘alien invaders’ matching activity, where pupils will be given either a picture or fact and asked to find the matching pair.
- A follow up discussion on the matching activity can then take place, with each pair sharing the invasive species and related fact. The facts introduce the idea that invasive species are harmful to both humans and native species, and that invasive species can also be plants as well as animals.
- Finally, there pupils can keep a tally or record of all the Grey and Red Squirrels they see while travelling back to class or to other geocache sites. The Grey and Red Squirrel identification cards can be shown here so pupils know what to lookout for. This feeds into the first follow up activity (above & below).
Potential issues with this site are that, at times, no Squirrels are visible. Commonly, Squirrels can be seen when getting to the site, but they soon run off and hide when people arrive. This could potentially mean that pupils do not see any Squirrels, which could spoil the pupil’s enjoyment of this geocache. For this reason we feel it is vital that this site is visited early on during the pupil’s visit to the University Campus, to give them enough time to carrying out the take away activity and spot, record, and tally all the Red and Grey Squirrels possible.
Craig Alexander and Jennifer Hutton