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mrkstvns

How to test scout on GPS usage?

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In another thread, a discussion of GPS and dementia got me thinking about that GPS "Navigation" requirement for First Class....how the heck are we supposed to test the boys on 4b? 

It looks to me like the requirement was probably written back when handheld GPS units were still the rage and people had a clue how latitude and longitude coordinates looked. Now that GPS seems to have become an infrastructure item that enables nav apps, the scouts have no idea what GPS is or what coordinates are. Had a scout come to me recently with Waze on his smartphone.  I asked him if he could have the app show the coordinates for our current location. Nope. The best he could muster was a street address. He could then enter another address and have the speaker tell me, "turn left in 500 feet..." etc. Is that really "using GPS"?  Given the changes in technology, I'm inclined to say "yeah, it is" since the point is really to understand how to navigate, not necessarily to use coordinate systems.

Any thoughts?

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Like most things, keeping requirements up to date with technology is difficult.  I use waze and it works.  With my handheld GPS, I tend to use MGRS as a system rather than Lat/Long.  My apps are more accurate than my GPS many times.  I say stick to that.  I have to put in waypoints in my handheld, my apps can just take my voice commands. 

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So, how do you explain to Search and Rescue where you are located in the deep wooded valley? "Turn left in 500 feet?". I'm a pilot, so Lat/Long is natural to me. 

Barry

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In my experience with S&R, people don't know their location, grids, and have trouble with landmarks.  Often we relied on sight, sound, movement/contrast, and a general sense of direction they should have taken.  If we have coms with them, we tell them to stay put, make their presence known, and describe what they see.  If they just keep their phone one without using up the battery, often it/they can be found with that feature.  Not that I've been lost or my phone left me.

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2 minutes ago, Double Eagle said:

In my experience with S&R, people don't know their location, grids, and have trouble with landmarks.  Often we relied on sight, sound, movement/contrast, and a general sense of direction they should have taken.  If we have coms with them, we tell them to stay put, make their presence known, and describe what they see.  If they just keep their phone one without using up the battery, often it/they can be found with that feature.  Not that I've been lost or my phone left me.

That is a lot of ifs for someone stuck in the middle of a dense forest. Turn left in 500 feet isn't of much value in the Norther Tier or the Arizona desert. I imagine that Lat/Long is well understood for most Alaskans. I haven't looked, but surely their is nav app that converts to lat long like the aviation apps. I would certainly want my scouts to have clue.

Barry

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Tell the boys there is root beer and ice cream at such and such coordinates and they have 30 minutes to get there before the scoutmasters start eating it all.  They'll figure it out.

I played with the Polaris GPS app on Android years ago.  It used to have maps and such, waypoints, etc.  It might be worth a look, the free version used to have ads.

 

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First step in advancement is A Scout Learns.  The test of the requirement comes later. However, since it was asked how to test 4b. One possible test could be to do it on a campout where no roads exist in the forest. The scout would still have to use the digital map to determine their route to their desired location. The gps would provide updated current location to help them course correct.

The extreme version would be to do this in an area without cell coverage in which case the gps app would only give lat/long and the scout would have to use a pre-downloaded (or paper) map to navigate.

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9 minutes ago, DuctTape said:

The extreme version would be to do this in an area without cell coverage in which case the gps app would only give lat/long and the scout would have to use a pre-downloaded (or paper) map to navigate.

Even without cell service, your typical smart phone can determine GPS from sat coverage. There are a number of free aps where one can do such.

The language of the requirement 4b doesn't seem to convey the need to learn long and lat, much less magnetic declination. It would appear that as long as a scout can use a smart phone (specifically mentioned in the requirement) to get from point A to point B, that the requirement is met.

 

4a is more about map and compass work.

 

 

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4b. Demonstrate how to use a handheld GPS unit, GPS app on a smartphone, or other electronic navigation system. Use GPS to find your current location, a destination of your choice, and the route you will take to get there. Follow that route to arrive at your destination.

This is still the requirement in question, right?  This doesn't say anything about it having to be a destination to be in the woods.  I would say that there isn't anything in this requirement that would exclude the use of Google Maps, Waze, or other navigation apps.  It does also say "a destination of your choice" so this could be walking directions downtown or being the navigator on a road trip.  I feel like someone excluding city/road navigation would be adding requirements, but if you wanted to do this in the woods then you could use something like AllTrails.

"Other electronic navigation system" could technically use in car navigation.  I think these requirements were meant to be "navigate the old fashioned way (4a)" and "navigate how most people do today (4b)."  

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13 hours ago, mds3d said:

This is still the requirement in question, right?  This doesn't say anything about it having to be a destination to be in the woods.  I would say that there isn't anything in this requirement that would exclude the use of Google Maps, Waze, or other navigation apps.  It does also say "a destination of your choice" ...

As with many things about advancement, I would toss this out to PLC and ask what would be the most fun way to do this? Some options:

  • On a given Saturday, I can go to a random coffee shop, E-mail the scouts the name of the place in the morning. They have to navigate to it.
  • I can pack my hammock, rigging, coffee, moka pot, water and stove in my Spanish contingent pack, picnic cloth. Set up in a public park where I might meet friends from the far corners of the earth, group text my location, and give a four-hour window in which scouts may find me there.
  • SPL/PL may do the above on his/her terms.
  • As part of their patrol's hike/camp plan, the scout who needs the requirement can navigate his patrol's driver to camp.
  • As part of the same plan, the scout can navigate the driver to the nearest ice cream stand.
  • Or, expanding on @walk in the woods' idea: I could dead-drop a half-keg of root beer in one location, the tap in another location, ice cream in another location, and have mugs hanging from a tree in yet another location. PLs must have their navigators lead them to the drop zone ... then to rendezvous at some idyllic camp. The locations may or may not be accessible by car depending on the whim of the SPL/ASPL.
  • Or the scout in question may "choose" his own destination, and try to convince a buddy that he should go with him/her there. He/she may choose someplace they've been before, but maybe choose a more interesting route or a novel starting point.

If the, buddy, PL, SPL/ASPL, or I do not want to go to some lame destination that the scout chooses out of sheer laziness because he/she already knows how to get there, then we aren't adding to the requirements by demanding he/she think out of the box. We're adding to to the fun.

Contrary to popular belief, scouts may add to the fun without fear of adding to the requirements!

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1 hour ago, qwazse said:

...

  • Or, expanding on @walk in the woods' idea: I could dead-drop a half-keg of root beer in one location, the tap in another location, ice cream in another location, and have mugs hanging from a tree in yet another location. PLs must have their navigators lead them to the drop zone ... then to rendezvous at some idyllic camp. The locations may or may not be accessible by car depending on the whim of the SPL/ASPL.

I really like this idea.  I might use it for doing requirement 4a (the orienteering course). Making a map to the mugs, root beer, ice cream etc. might work even better than the GPS coordinate thing...making it fun might go a long way towards getting scouts interested in learning what orienteering is really all about.

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21 hours ago, mrkstvns said:

In another thread, a discussion of GPS and dementia got me thinking about that GPS "Navigation" requirement for First Class....how the heck are we supposed to test the boys on 4b? 

It looks to me like the requirement was probably written back when handheld GPS units were still the rage and people had a clue how latitude and longitude coordinates looked. Now that GPS seems to have become an infrastructure item that enables nav apps, the scouts have no idea what GPS is or what coordinates are. Had a scout come to me recently with Waze on his smartphone.  I asked him if he could have the app show the coordinates for our current location. Nope. The best he could muster was a street address. He could then enter another address and have the speaker tell me, "turn left in 500 feet..." etc. Is that really "using GPS"?  Given the changes in technology, I'm inclined to say "yeah, it is" since the point is really to understand how to navigate, not necessarily to use coordinate systems.

Any thoughts?

Just an FYI, the iPhone Compass app has the GPS latitude/longitude coordinates.  

Edited by perdidochas

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1 hour ago, perdidochas said:

Just an FYI, the iPhone Compass app has the GPS latitude/longitude coordinates.  

There's also a free iPhone app called Tomstrails GPS that's dead simple. Most importantly, you can change the coordinate system to UTM or MGRS. You can also see the accuracy of your GPS fix.

Edited by Saltface

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6 hours ago, mrkstvns said:

I really like this idea.  I might use it for doing requirement 4a (the orienteering course). Making a map to the mugs, root beer, ice cream etc. might work even better than the GPS coordinate thing...making it fun might go a long way towards getting scouts interested in learning what orienteering is really all about.

Suggestion if using this for orienteering: pack the ice cream in dry ice. Include safety gloves for handling it and assign that to your more mature patrol. It might be a while before the scouts find it ... longer before they find the rendezvous. Alternatively, the course could end by the freezer!

Note around here that as far as root beer goes 1919 is the scouter beverage of choice, mainly because it's good, but also because we don't find it elsewhere on the eastern seaboard (click here for coverage area). Navigating to the distributor is itself a GPS adventure!

Not anywhere near a good 1919? Consider dead drops for all of the ingredients for dry ice rootbeer (this recipie is on my bucket list)!

Edited by qwazse

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