Recently I volunteered to create an activity for our middle school Intramurals block. We have a house system at our school and for intramurals, we usually have a physical challenge of some kind, with points being awarded to winning house teams. I wanted something physical (to stick to the active spirit of intramurals), yet utilizing technology. So, I came up with a photograph-based scavenger hunt.
Here’s how it worked:
1. I went around the middle school and took photographs of unusual or iconic objects. I tried to stick to things that were not so obvious – things that students would have seen every day, but may not be aware of at a conscious level. For this activity, I choose eleven objects/locations. This was to align the activity with the promotion of the school’s Essential 11 characteristics of a graduate.
2. I put the photos into a document and then posted the document into my classroom management program, Moodle. Later, I would instructing students to access the document via their phones, so I wanted to make sure the document was available in multiple formats. The formats I chose were a PDF file, an MS Word version, and a Google Docs file. In case that no one could access the pictures by phone, I printed copies of the document out to hand out to the teams.
3. On the day of the event, the house teams were gathered together in the middle school courtyard. Students were asked to take out their phones and go to my Moodle page. I asked students to look through the photos and then I delivered the instructions: each team was to find the object in the photo. Then, the entire team had to take a selfie with the object. Once the team had photos of themselves with all 11 targets, they had to race back to me. We have 8 house teams at our school. So, in terms of scoring, the first house to return with all their photos would earn their house 8 points. The next team back would earn 7 points. The number of points awarded would decrease for subsequent teams until the final team, in 8th place, would receive only 1 point.
Next time, I would not gather the students outside in the courtyard to deliver the instructions. It was very noisy and distracting out there. There were elementary students on their way to PE and high schoolers having lunch, so it was a pretty hectic place to be delivering important directions.
Despite the rough start, the event went well. The three groups that came in 1st, 2nd and 3rd really hustled around the school. Those who came in afterwards tended to travel listlessly. Maybe some sort of additional extrinsic motivation (prizes?) would have helped.
Another issue to watch for are the students looking for an opportunity to ditch the activity. These kids will manage to get separated from their team and then pretend that they can’t find them. This way they tag along with teams containing their friends, rather than their actual team. Or, they simply wander around on their own. This is where you need your teacher partners to stand around the course, keeping teams as together as possible. Also, it is handy for the teachers to have a complete listing of the house teams to ensure no one is tagging along with their friends.
- You could run a similar activity on a field trip, where students have to search a location (like a museum) for particular artifacts.
- You could have students go through a book looking for particular passages, or through a movie looking for important scenes.
- This would be great in a library – have students search for certain titles.
- What about a collaborative activity where students must look for clues/ideas in other classrooms.
If you have ever run anything like this and have any helpful advice or suggestions, please do pass it along.