Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Free Stuff

I am all about free. This entry is about free (educational) stuff. This morning, my youngest and I went to the Polk County ISU Extension Office to get our area's gps kit for Friday's geocaching class. (The class is over-full, but we like home school parties.) We are using this kit free of charge, and it includes (from the extension website):

The kit includes the following:picture of GPS kit contents

*10 Garmin eTrex GPS Systems

*10 Brunton Compass
*10 Bullseye Compass
*Video “The ABC’s of Compass & Map”
*CD of Brunton Navigation Curriculum
*MapTech Software (Topographic Maps)
*Overhead Teaching Compass
*Brunton Navigation & Mapping Activities
*CD that includes: GPS Activities, GPS References, and Compass Activities
Cost of the Ready to Navigate with GPS! Kit is $1700.

Pretty jazzed about it all. Except that our thumbs hurt from entering the coords in to all the units. And one of the units has a bad crack in the glass.

I also received two identical kits from the Heartland AEA 11 office. I love the envelope of extra batteries that Heartland supplied. I was wondering what I should do if any batteries wore out. That almost evens out the difficulty that I have in working with Heartland and their resources.

So I have 30 gps receivers (gps-r's) at my house. I thought that I would have 2 gps-r's from Heartland, not 2 kits with ten units apiece. I think the Heartland AEA contact thought the same thing. The gal there told me that if I needed more gps-r's that I should "call the Extension, because they have ten identical units to ours, and it sounds like you need more than the two that we can supply." Can you imagine anyone carrying a large suitcase for only one gps-r? (thinking now of bomb-toting bad guys) Can you picture me carrying ten of those suitcases around?

Anyway, while I was waiting to talk with the Extension gal, I happened to pick up a brochure entitled Teaching Kits, Check Them Out! The brochure lists many kits with a large variety of topics for different ages, containing equipment, curricula, games, etc., either free or $1/week. I learned that anyone can check these kits out -- you do not need to be a 4-H leader (my former misconception). At Heartland, usage is very restricted, so the Extension may become my new BFF for learning about non-nature topics. For nature, I like the city (love that West Des Moines has a two week check-out period) and County Conservation Board's Park Packs. Free and fun stuff!!!

Moral of the story: if you need many gps-r's, you do not need to beg your friends and run around town collecting all of them. Just call your local Extension office. The people at our office were friendly and they want to see us use all of their stuff. Free stuff.


Sara said...

OK, so I didn't realize each case came with 10 units!! I didn't realize that when you told me about this. We would really only need 1 unless someone felt "left out" for not being able to hold it the whole time!

The Buman Family said...

I'm heading out today to pick up the kit from the Sioux County extension office for our CITO event this weekend in Le Mars. We hope to have a bunch of newbies there to learn all about geocaching. You hand-entered the coords, eh? Isn't that a data cable in the photo?