A scavenger hunt can help high school students learn to work as a team. It can build critical thinking skills and give them an opportunity to apply concepts they've learned in class in a fun and engaging way. A well-organized scavenger hunt could include the entire school or one class, restricting activities to a certain area.
Reinforce what you've recently taught students by providing clues that contain math problems that need to be solved. A clue could say something like, "The answer to this problem is the number of the room that holds the next clue. Hint: Look down!" Another idea is to focus on geometry. Give students a list of shapes and have them prowl the school grounds for common objects that fit those shapes. Have them record the object next to the name of the shape.
To add an element of English, include a clue that leads students to a book or poster of a famous author. For example, if your school library has a poster of Robert Frost, your clue might say, "I stopped by the woods on a snowy evening once; maybe that's why I sound a bit cold. I'm trying to warm up in the library." You can also use this clue to point to students to Robert Frost books, and plant the next clue in one of his books, or on the shelf the books are on.
Look around the school for any scientific props where you could place clues. A skeleton is one example. You could use a common riddle such as, "I didn't dance, because I had nobody to dance with. Who am I?" Italicize "body" in the word "nobody."
Lead students to a print of a famous painting, or to a spot in the art room where the next clue awaits them. "I'm repainted every day, and every day the paint is washed away" could lead students to the cupboard where painting palettes are kept.
Students can also search for clues online, which can help them hone their Internet research skills. Revolve the hunt around a theme. Have students pair up, and assign each pair to a computer. Instead of planting clues, give them a list of things they must find, such as a credible site about the history of jazz, or a recent scholarly article on psychoanalytic theory. Specify what a credible site is.
You could hold an entire scavenger hunt in the library, to help students get used to using the catalog and finding books. Have them work in pairs or small groups so they can help one another. Place clues within books, tucking them in like bookmarks so students can easily see them after they've picked up the right book. As with any scavenger hunt, they should leave clues in place after they find them so others can continue hunting.
Melanie J. Martin specializes in environmental issues and sustainable living. Her work has appeared in venues such as the Environmental News Network, "Ocean" magazine and "GREEN Retailer." Martin holds a Master of Arts in English.