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An AMAZing Adventure at the Space and Rocket Center

An AMAZing Adventure at the Space and Rocket Center

Although the U.S. Space and Rocket Center has yet to disappoint with their special exhibits, I was a little skeptical going in to GPS Adventures. How much could there be to say about GPS? For me, a GPS navigates me from point A to point B and tells me what time I’ll get there. Of course I know about orienteering and geocaching, but what are other applications are there? Turns out, there’s A LOT MORE to talk about and the exhibit creatively describes the different ways we navigate through our world and how tools (both low-tech and high-tech) make that possible. GPS Adventures is challenging and fun with lots of interesting learning opportunities about global positioning systems, geocaching, and navigation.

Navigating the Maze

Your first stop is the maze, located in the special exhibits area. When you enter the maze, you’re greeted by a USSRC staff member who explains the maze and gives you a colored card. The card is your “GPS” and guides you to four different geocaches in the maze. Once you find the area where the cache is located (you’ll know when you’re there because there’s a keyless entry door and several signs in the room), follow clues on the signs to find the cache, then solve a puzzle for a code to open the door to that area’s exhibit.

There's a lot more to GPS than you imagined!
There’s a lot more to GPS than you imagined!

Behind the doors are exhibits that highlight different types of navigational tools, applications, and technologies. It’s a lot to take in, but spend some time in each room (that is, if your kids aren’t dashing off to find the next cache!). In each room, you’ll stamp the card you got at the beginning. Hang on to that…there’s a cool activity at the end where you put your navigating skills to the test!

  • Pay close attention to everything in the room where the cache is located. Some clues and puzzles are pretty crafty.
  • If you get frustrated and can’t figure out the puzzle, the code for each room is under a flap on the door.
  • If other museum visitors are in the room with you, make it a team effort! We had a group working together on one puzzle and when we finally got it, we all cheered!

Putting Your GPS Skills to Work

After you finish the maze, continue the fun by finding actual geocaches hidden at the museum. You have the following options:

  • Using the GPS provided by the USSRC, you can find four caches located outside (but within the museum grounds). Note: you can only get one GPS per driver’s license which you leave with a staff member.
  • Using your smart phone or GPS receiver, you can find five additional caches located on the property (but outside of the museum). These caches were placed by local geocachers and are not part of the USSRC exhibit. You need an account (free) with to access location information, so set this up before you go.

Pro Tips

  • If using the Magellan GPS supplied by the USSRC, start with Centaur G Prime, then find Jupiter 5, Yellow Submarine, and finally, One Small Step. That way you won’t have to criss-cross the complex looking for each cache (like we did!).
  • While the caches in the GPS Adventures Maze are relatively easy to find, the puzzles could be too complex for younger children. My children (7 and 10 years old) had fun finding the caches, and the 10 year old and I worked together to solve the puzzles. It took us about 45 minutes to complete the maze.
  • When you are searching for outside caches with your GPS, the cache names are the clues to the location! So, if you’re intimately familiar with the USSRC, you’ll probably know where you’re going before the GPS tells you (but remember, you still have to find the cache).
  • When you return your GPS, be sure you get a Geocaching Your Way Through Alabama postcard to start your own Alabama treasure hunt.

Are you a geomuggle (someone who’s doesn’t know anything about geocaching)? On Saturdays at 1:00 p.m., attend a Geocaching 101 presentation in Discovery Theater and get the low-down on how to get started geocaching.


What: GPS Adventures
Where: The U.S. Space and Rocket Center, One Tranquility Base, Huntsville, AL 35805
When: Now through November 2, 2014, Open 7 days a week, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Phone number: 256-837-3400 or 1-800-637-7223
Cost: Included with general admission.


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