Treasure hunting and bug puzzles

By: Jeremy Babendure, Ph.D, Executive Director, Arizona SciTech Festival
Even though back-to-school will be in full swing in a few weeks, there is still time to have some summer fun with these STEM-based projects.

Bug puzzles
Do you love puzzles? How about trying some crossword or word search puzzles about bugs? These activities by Arizona State University School of Life Sciences “Ask a Biologist” are based on articles such as Big Bad Beetles, Face to Face with Ants and Not so Scary Scorpions; kids use the words within the content to solve the puzzles. Download puzzles here.

Colorado_potato_beetle wikicommons


If you find time on the weekend to head north and get out of the heat, how about hunting for treasure? Geocaching is an outdoor adventure where people around the world use global positioning systems (GPS) gadgets to hide and find containers with treasures. There are more than 2.5 million geocaches hidden in over 180 countries, according to

Before it’s time to head out to search for treasures, try these activities to get your kid’s geocaching skills ready to go!

Daught and mom geocaching high-res

Geocaching fun facts
“Geo” means Earth and “cache” has two meanings, a temporary hiding place and technology. This activity was originally referred to as “GPS stash hunting” or “gpsstashing” before the term geocaching was adopted.

The first documented cache was on May 5, 2000 recorded by Dave Ulmer of Oregon. He found a partially buried black plastic bucket that contained a video, book, money, a slingshot and more.

The popular geocaching site launched on September 2, 2000 with only 75 known caches around the world.

Longitude & latitude
Help the kids find their way to the treasure! To begin, download and print out some handouts and worksheets by National Geographic that teach the kids about longitude (distance north or south of the Equator, measured in degrees) and latitude (distance east or west of the prime meridian, measured in degrees).

Have the kids practice their knowledge by trying to find national landmarks or a favorite city using longitude and latitude coordinates. Download the activities here.

geocaching app

Geocaching gear
When your family is ready to plan that trip to find treasure, get out your smartphone and download the Geocaching mobile app by

If your destination begins at a state park, make sure to review the park’s geocaching rules before venturing in those areas. Here is the link for Maricopa County parks only.

Don’t go searching for treasure without the proper equipment, REI has a site dedicated to geocaching and suggested gear for the trip. They even have a video dedicated to geocaching etiquette.

For more STEM-filled fun, head over the Arizona SciTech Festival website to find events, festivals and activities for the family.

About Arizona SciTech Festival: The AZ SciTech Festival has grown into one of the state’s largest collaborative around STEM. We have over 700 collaborating organizations around business, education, government and community collaborating to put forth STEM based celebrations in their communities. There are now over 1000 events and activities in more than 51 Arizona cities and towns.

Contributions and graphics courtesy of: REI, Wikipedia, ASU Life Sciences, National Geographic,

Arizona SciTech Festival:
ASU Life Science