20-Oct-2002 -- This was my fourth visit to a degree confluence site! Like my first three visits, it was relatively close to the nearest road, and didn’t take very long to find. Using the photos taken by the first visitor, it was easy to tell when I was in the immediate area of the confluence. Like him, I found the shooting range, complete with bullet-ridden barrels. This time there was a fresh cardboard bullseye target, too. The confluence spot is surrounded by a pine forest, and the ground in the open area has rock face showing through here and there.
Hunters are obviously using the homemade rifle range to calibrate gun sights for the deer hunting season in Upstate New York. In fact, since it’s that time of year right now, I made sure to come very early on a Sunday morning. I hoped the hunters would be asleep or in church. If I had heard gunshots, I would have come back another day! The range was quiet this morning, and I was grateful to be able to complete my visit in one trip.
Two of my previous confluence visits were made last spring, on the way home from an annual technology education conference held at Lake George in the Adirondack Mountains. I planned today's confluence visit to coincide with two upcoming statewide teacher conferences that are held every fall. I will be giving presentations about using GPS in school at each conference. You can learn more about the conferences, and the two organizations that sponsor them, at the websites linked below:
STANYS – Science Teachers Association of New York State
NYSCATE – New York State Association for Computers & Technology in Education
My co-presenters for the sessions on GPS and amateur radio at the STANYS conference are Jim Kuhl, from the Central Square Middle School, and David Thon, from the Appleby Elementary School in Marathon. All three of us are amateur (ham) radio operators. We are using ham radios with students as well as GPS receivers. After all, let's not forget that a GPS "receiver" is just a radio with a calculator riding alongside! The GPS presentations I give always include a discussion of The Degree Confluence Project, and how teachers can use the information and photos here for student learning.
The three of us are looking forward to coordinating the Second Annual STANYS GPS Challenge Event that we began last year. It's a team competition that's based on a combination of the Geocaching and Letterboxing sports. To set up the course, we hide waterproof boxes that contain a rubberstamp and an inkpad, and the participants are given entry forms with the GPS coordinates. They have to find the boxes, and stamp their entry forms. Every team that successfully completes the GPS Challenge course is entered in a raffle for prizes.
If you like GPS, you should try amateur radio, too. Once you pass the simple F.C.C. exam, you'll be ham radio operator for life. The entry-level exam isn't difficult, and the cost is minimal. If you're a teacher, ham radio is a wonderful tool that your students can use to explore the world, just like they do with a GPS receiver! You can learn more about amateur radio in the U.S, right here:ARRL - American Radio Relay League
NYGPS is the mailing list homepage for teachers that I helped create a year ago this month. We now have over 200 members. While it was first intended to serve the needs of K-12 teachers in New York who want to explore the use of GPS technology for instruction, it has since been expanded to include teachers anywhere in the world who are similarly interested. We also have college faculty and professional geographers in the group.
NYGPS - mailing list for teachers using GPS in school
For example, Joseph Kerski and Roger Barlow, my geography mentors from the USGS, are members. Joseph has become an avid confluence hunter during the past year. Be sure to have a look at his visit reports. Joseph gives GIS (Geographic Information Systems) training to teachers around the country, so we’re glad to have him around to answer members' questions at NYGPS. Want to know more about the confluence at the South Pole? Just ask Roger! He's a member of the 300-Club, too. If you don't know about that very special group, you'll have to do a little research. It's a story Roger will only share with other geography buffs, so to speak. Visit the NYGPS homepage, and consider joining our group - it's free!