Frieda Frog, World Traveler, was recently welcomed home to Duffy Elementary School.
After over 20,000 miles, 178 geocache visits in 15 states, and a trip to Japan, Frieda was found by her owner, Clare Taylor, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in August and returned to Duffy.
The journey began close to four years ago when teachers Clare Taylor, Ryan Roberts-Walstrom, and Steve Lewis began this unique race. Their 5th grade students sent plastic frogs representing their classrooms to each teacher’s high school through geocache treasure boxes.
Tracking down Frieda after four years was no easy task. Taylor went online this summer and saw that Frieda was in her home state of Michigan. Within a month, a posting stated that Frieda was going on a quick trip to Japan.
Taylor lost hope of ever seeing Frieda, until a posting said the frog returned from Japan and was placed in a geocache a half mile from Taylor’s sister’s house in Traverse City, Mich. While vacationing in Michigan, Taylor went to the site where Frieda was supposed to be, but unfortunately she was one day too late.
Within a week Frieda was placed in a box in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and on August 11, Taylor and her father found the world traveling frog.
The Duffy teachers' three plastic frogs started their race from a geocache treasure box in the West Hartford reservoir, and planned to hop from box to box until they reached their destination schools in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. Frieda Frog was the first to reach her goal and is now back at Duffy school.
As for the other teachers’ frogs: Bobby Frog is on his 14th hop and has been a few hours from his destination since June 2010. He has traveled 524 miles throughout Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Unfortunately, Billy Frog made four hops before he was trashed by non-geocachers in July of 2008. He had traveled 1009 miles in Connecticut, New York and Illinois.
Geocaching has become a popular sport worldwide. Caches are posted on www.geocaching.com and people travel off the beaten path to find the hidden boxes and exchange trinkets. Taylor was able to find two caches when she went to Japan.
Students in 5th grade at Duffy have seven Garmin GPS units obtained from a National Education Association Teaching Innovation grant. Each 5th grader is able to take a unit home and record their latitude and longitude. When they get back to school they can get the coordinates from Google Earth and compare the data. Interesting conversations are heard in class about which numbers are the most accurate and why.
Some students are beginnig to do geocaching with their families. One Duffy student got started when her sister was in 5th grade and their family has found over 100 geocaches so far.
Taylor recently won a grant from the Foundation for West Hartford Public Schools that will put GPS units in every 5th grade in the district's 11 elementary schools. She hopes that geocaching will catch on and other children will be able to enjoy this fun sport.