Great Online Library Scavenger Hunt
in elementary school are routinely taught library skills.
They learn how to use the card catalog, either traditional or electronic,
and they learn simple research strategies.
In the ideal situation, students leave elementary school with a firm
grasp of how to use the library and common reference tools, such as
dictionaries, encyclopedias, almanacs and atlases.
These skills are a necessary foundation for further research skills.
Still, many children exit the elementary system unprepared for the
research challenges they will face in the middle school environment; and,
unfortunately, library instruction all too often is reduced, or even suspended,
after elementary school. This
frequently leaves middle school students inexperienced and unprepared to fulfill
school instruction clearly must be approached differently than elementary
instruction. The students are at an
age where they are fiercely trying to assert their independence; still, they do
require some guidance. They need to
be challenged in an environment where they can succeed independently.
Furthermore, they must have access to assistance, which should be
available at their own discretion. A
scavenger hunt can help fulfill this niche in the middle school setting.
It is an inventive way to offer middle school students a safe and fun
environment in which to learn the basics of research.
In his article, “Hunting Season,” Walter Minkel cleverly defines
scavenger hunts as “a sneaky way to teach library skills.”
The Great Online Library Scavenger Hunt is an attempt to provide middle
school students with a fun and interesting challenge, while teaching them basic
skills required for effective researching.
The Great Online Library
Scavenger Hunt is a tool that can be used to teach middle school students,
grades 6-8, how to independently research using reference tools and the
Internet. Its intention is to
provide a variety of learning formats that will make researching fun and
educational. The scavenger hunts
are in an online format, with equivalent printable versions available.
The majority of questions can be answered using common reference tools or
various free Internet resources.
Great Online Library Scavenger Hunt was created and designed to fulfill
requirements for ILS 503-70, Foundations of Library Science, through Southern
Connecticut State University. The
authors are Johnna Christensen of Tel Aviv, Israel, Ellen Nosal of East Hampton,
CT, Julie Perry of
Uncasville, CT, Shannon Ryan of Phoenix, AZ, and Maureen Wynkoop of
Sicklerville, NJ. The following
procedures were followed in order to complete this project.
we chose for our audience middle school students, grades 6-8. Next, we defined which skills the hunt should be focused on
developing. We knew that we wanted
to offer a wide variety of topics, so that each student could find something
catered to their interests. The
main objective was to make the hunt simultaneously fun and educational.
The students are rewarded with smiling emoticons for correct answers;
furthermore, the pages are filled with animated graphics for the students’
amusement. The final feature of the
site is a special congratulatory page, with a printable certificate that can be
opened at any point during the hunt.
idea of planning and executing a group project with people completely
geographically scattered was a bit daunting at first.
It worked very well, however, and our distance did not prove to be a
barrier to the group effort. Although
our main form of contact was through email communication, we met in the online
chat room to solidify our plans and divide the duties as evenly as possible.
Members chose to develop different subject categories for the hunt.
Four members researched curriculum and created questions for the hunt,
while one member concentrated on the technical aspects of creating the website.
This member located online testing software and translated all of the
questions into a format compatible with the software.
categories chosen were Mathematics, Science, Popular Entertainment, World
History, United States History, Geography, Literature, General Reference, and
the Dictionary. We decided to
include a page of hints and web links for all sections, in order to direct
students to the correct answers. We
also decided it would be prudent to limit the suggested web sites so that the
students would not be easily sidetracked.
level of difficulty and subject matter were dictated by the age of the audience
and the corresponding age level curriculum.
Members researched their assigned subject areas and created questions to
fit the format of the hunt. Some
members created questions utilizing print materials and then found appropriate
web sites; other members started with web sites and then identified reliable
consideration we had concerned the access, or lack thereof, to varied print
resources for many libraries. Although
the Internet provides the potential for many authoritative resources, print
materials can be cost prohibitive. Therefore,
in an effort to make the test accessible for all, we tried to identify universal
print resources that could be found in most school libraries.
Furthermore, we did not want the focus of the hunt to be only Internet
related searching, so we decided that each hunt should be accessible in print
form as well. Consequently, we
created a printable version of each hunt to accompany the online counterparts.
many of us, creating the questions was the most frustrating part of the project,
because we were trying to create questions that could be answered in both
environments. Initially, it was determined that all testing formats (i.e.,
matching, word searches, fill-in-the-blanks, etc.) could be used in the hunt.
This proved to be labor intensive for the web coordinator.
Questions were sent to the web coordinator as email attachments in
Microsoft Word. The web coordinator
then edited the design and layout of the hunts to create the web site. Some of the software used for the project was FrontPage, and
the educational software Hot Potatoes.
of the group recruited students within the desired age group to try the
scavenger hunt. In this way, we
were able to test all sections of the scavenger hunt on the intended audience.
Testing allowed us to gauge the level of difficulty, the wording of
problems, and the time commitment required.
Testing helped us determine that at least 30 minutes was needed for most
students to complete each section. Amazingly,
many adults thought the questions were too hard, but the middle school students
were undaunted and accepted the challenge with vim and vigor.
in all, developing the scavenger hunt was an educational experience for us all.
We learned a great deal in terms of general knowledge, research skills,
design, marketing, and audience analysis.
Nonetheless, upon review of our finished product, the following
suggestions and changes would be made for the development of future scavenger
Before creating questions, it is better to decide on which web sites will
be featured based on their value and then create questions around the sites.
Software should be analyzed for functionality before deciding on question
format. This will allow for more
consistency within each subject and reduce translation problems.
Assign one universal font and layout before starting, so less
manipulation is required to ensure cohesiveness at the end of the project.
A schedule of periodic online chat times and deadlines could help ease
some anxiety and reduce last minute chaos.
Because adapting the hunts from online format to print format, and vice
versa, is so time consuming, it might be prudent to design different hunts for
print and online resources.
“Database scavenger hunt
(activity project to get students to explore databases)" School
Librarian's Workshop. Nov 1996: 5-6.
“Library scavenger hunts: a way out of the bewilderness” Wilson
Library Bulletin Jan 1990: 38-40.
“The virtual reference library (Internet scavenger hunt).”
Computers in Libraries. May