This circuit can be used with middle- to high-school students and adults who have a basic understanding of the sport of orienteering. An introduction to the orienteering map beforehand is recommended. Each station may take 30-45 minutes to complete. Students should work in groups to provide safety, shared input and reinforcement.
When the group arrives introduce yourself and the activity of the station. The goal of distance estimation is to learn how to keep track of the distance you have traveled. In this case, pace counting will be used.
Step 1: Have students walk, jog and run a measured 100m, keeping track of the number of steps it takes them for each distance. (In the example below, this is the length between the center of circle marked T and the center of the triangle.) Each end of the 100m should be marked with a cone or other suitable marker. Ask them to use the numbers do some basic calculations. For example, how many steps would it take for a person walking to travel 400m, etc.
Step 2: There will be a star of cones pointing in various directions, each one with a different distance. The cones will indicate the direction of the lines to follow. At the end of the distance will be a cone with a letter on it, as shown on the example below. Using their pace count, the students have to run in a line the distance assigned to find the object. They will come back and tell you what letter they found on the cone at the end of the distance. You can tell the students they got it right or not based on the master map and the line they ran.
Sample map clip showing star configuration of pace counting control/stream locations
Some Safety Issues:
When the group arrives introduce yourself and explain what they will be doing at this station. The goal of this station is for the students to decode the "clue card" control descriptions and figure out what they represent. To do this we will play a game called "headless chicken."
Step 1: Introduce the students to the list of symbols. This list will be provided with the equipment for the station. Discuss any questions about the list.
Step 2: Divide the group into 4-6 teams. Explain the game of headless chicken.
Map clip showing a small area with lots of features that could be used for the "headless chicken" game
Some Safety Issues:
When the students arrive introduce yourself and the activity of this station, learning to make a map.
Step 1: Ask the students to imagine they are a bird flying over and looking down on the area they are standing on right now. What would it look like? Draw their attention to the relationships of different objects and features. For example, how much space is between the parking lot and the road compared to the road junction and the road bend? How much space should the picnic table take up compared to the bathroom on the map? As the students are starting to think about this, ask them how they would represent certain features on the map, what would they use to show a building, a hill, a tree, a grill, a road, etc.
Step 2: Hand each student a blank piece of paper and a couple of colored pencils. Ask them to make a map of a small area surrounded by roads and/or trails (for example, the area below marked by the purple hash line).
Step 3: Five minutes before the station ends, have the students come back and compare their map to the aerial photos and the orienteering map (seen below) so they can see how accurate they were and what differences there are. Discuss the differences.
Sample map showing a small area that students can try to map
When the group arrives introduce yourself and the station. At this station the kids will be learning how to take a rough and a precise compass bearing.
Step 1: Introduce the kids to the compass. Ask them to take a look at the compass and tell you what they see. For example: Numbers, arrows, a dial that turns, a needle that turns, etc.
Step 2: Out of this dialogue highlight the 2 arrows in the picture below and the needle. The arrow on the baseplate of the compass is called the "line of direction" or "line of travel" arrow (shown below with the notation "read bearing here". The red outlined arrow on the dial part of the compass can be called the "house" or "shed" arrow. The red side of the needle points to magnetic north. (At this time don’t describe the difference between magnetic north and true north unless the question is asked. The answer would be: magnetic north is based on the draw of the magnetic poles of the earth and varies by a certain number of degrees from the center axis of the earth. The variance in degrees is between magnetic and true north varies depending on where you are in the world.) To get a clear reading on magnetic north the compass needs to be held flat in the palm of the hand, away from metallic objects such as belts.
A typical baseplate compass
Step 3: Ask the students to locate a feature that stands directly North, South, East and West of them using the compass.
Step 4: Introduce the steps to take a compass bearing:
They now have a bearing. Have the students trade compasses without changing anything on the compass. The students turn the whole compass until the needle sits in the shed and see if they can guess the feature that their partner was traveling towards.
Step 5: Take a bearing using the map to a feature you may not be able to see. In the case depicted below, you will all be starting from the purple triangle. The purple circles represent a place where there will be a colored ribbon the students are trying to find, marked with a letter. There are 4 ribbons along the road and 4 ribbons in the woods. On the map is a blue arrow that represents Magnetic north. The steps for taking a bearing to a distant point are as follows:
Sample map showing a set of streamered locations for students to test the bearing technique
Step 6: The students now have to try and run to the ribbons on their bearing. Have them start with the ones on the far trail. Their goal is to see how close to the ribbon they can get just running on the line. Within 10m or 33 feet is very good. Once students have hit at least 2 ribbons on the trail then they can try for the ones off the trail. This requires more precision. So they will need to choose specific points or objects along the line that they can see. Once they get to the point they should check their bearing and find a new point along the line and run to that. Do this until they hit the ribbons.
Step 7: To close, explain that the first exercise uses rough compass because you are using fewer points to keep track of your line. The second exercise is more precise because you are using more points to keep track of the line of travel. Ask if anyone can tell you why you might want to use one or the other.
Some Safety issues for this Station:
When the kids arrive introduce yourself and the activity for the station. In this station the kids will be learning how to orient the map to the terrain around them and track their progress along a route by thumbing.
Step 1: Hand out the maps and have the group identify the features around them. For example, have them point out a trail junction, hill, vegetation, etc. Reference the example below. Have the students line the map up with the features around them so the map is oriented.
Sample detailed map clip
Once the map is oriented ask them to walk up the trail to the north. Using their thumb to keep track of what features they have passed ask the students to stop once they have come to the patch of grey on the right side of the trail to the north. Do this with them. Check that they are thumbing along by asking if they can point exactly to where they are or not. Do the same thing walking back to the triangle on the map.
Step 2: Explain the exercise. They are at the triangle and their goal is to find the ribbons inside each circle of the course, in order. Each leg will have multiple trail junctions and students will have to keep their maps oriented to make the right choice. Thumbing along will help them keep track of the terrain and where they are so when they come to a trail junction they know which one it is and what they can use to orient their map to.
Step 3: Divide the group into groups of 2 or 3 and start them 1 minute apart. The course will finish back at the triangle. Once the students have finished the course, talk to them to see how it went. Where did they succeed in thumbing and keeping the map oriented, and where did they have trouble and how could they do it differently? Then send them to the next station.
Some safety issues:
When the students arrive introduce yourself and the activity of the station. Relocation is a skill that helps you figure out where you are when you are lost or confused.
Step 1: Hand out the course maps and compasses to each individual. Using the triangle as an example go through the steps of relocation. Those are:
Because you are already standing still, just tell the kids the first step is to Stop moving, and do this any time you are not sure. Find North with your compass and line the blue North arrow of the map up with north on the compass. Look around for an obvious feature in a clear direction and try and find that feature on the map. In the example below, the hill and trail junction would be clear obvious features. If the first direction does not work try another one. If no feature in all directions works then keeping the map oriented run to a large linear feature that you can’t miss, for example the trail to the south of the triangle or the road to the north. Go through this a couple times.
Step 2: Explain the activity: The group will be split up into 2 teams. To start, one team member will carry all the individual maps. That team member will also be given a map with a drop zone indicated as the dashed purple circles in the example below. This team member leads, with the group running or walking to the drop zone which is some distance away from the ribbon in the circle on the course map. At the drop zone the team members are given the course maps. They have to figure out where they are and how to get to the ribbon using their relocation skills. Once the whole team has found the ribbon, a new team member takes all the maps and the drop zone map and navigates the team to the next drop zone. The same process is repeated.
Step 3: To start, take the group to the first drop zone to demonstrate how it is done. After the first one send the groups out starting with different drop zones. The group should try as many as they want in the time they have.
Drop zones are indicated with dashed circles
Some Safety Issues: