A fellow TM suggested I post the scavenger hunt idea I used with my team last weekend. We visited four types of stores: craft supply store, hardware store, fabric store and office supply store for 30 minutes each. The kids were armed with a list of questions to answer in each store, with the end product being a list of materials and supplies from which they can draw ideas when they are working on their solution during the year.

Many of the questions used in this scavenger hunt actually came from Rich Safris, the author of “The Winning Edge,” who included them in his book as a list of Instant Challenges.

The kids can team up in pairs if they desire. I offered a “McGuyver” prize for the most complete list of answers (a tool that can be used during building/construction), as well as participation tokens.

Why McGuyver? To me he represents the kind of creativity displayed in DI — making something out of nothing, or something out of whatever is at hand.

Scavenger Hunt Questions:

Hardware store only:

  • Name different sizes and/or types of lumber.
    (Look at different shapes.)
  • Name things that have to do with electricity.

Fabric store only:

  • Name different kinds of textiles (fabrics).
    Look for different textures and different properties.
  • Name items that can be used to embellish (decorate) other things.

Office supply store only:

  • Name different types of paper products.
    (Look for different textures and properties.)
  • Name items that can be used to embellish (decorate) other things.

Craft supply store only:

  • Name the different shapes of wood that you see.
  • Name items that can be used to embellish (decorate) other things.

All stores:

  • Name things used to fasten things together.
  • Name items that could be used for drawing, writing or painting.
  • Name items that could support things.
  • Name things that could be stapled.
  • Name different kinds of adhesives (glues).
  • Name things that could be glued.
  • Name things that could be nailed.
  • Name things that could be painted.
  • Name things that could be cut.
  • Name things that give off light or reflect light.
  • Name things that you see with holes in them.
  • Name things whose shape or size can be changed.
  • Name different ways of making things change color.

About the Activity:

  • Q. Did you take all the kids all at once in each store?
    A. Yes, I did. They chose to pair up in the aisles, which was their option, as long as they came up with independent answers.
  • Q. Did you talk to the managers or employees first to let them know what was going on?
    A. Actually, I didn’t. The stores were so filled with weekend/holiday shoppers that a few extra boys armed with clipboards didn’t really disrupt anything or raise any eyebrows. If we had gone at a more quiet time, I probably would have alerted the manager about what we were doing.
  • Q. Did you allow the kids to ask the employees questions?
    A. Yes, they could do that if they wished. I viewed that as a good use of resources in locating materials and supplies. Since the kids weren’t actually working on their solution, but on a general list of materials and supplies, I didn’t view that as Interference.
  • Q. Did you ask for just one answer to each question in order to finish the hunt?
    A. I was looking for as many varied answers to individual questions as the kids could find, so I awarded points for each answer, not for how many questions were answered. I was amazed by the number and types of answers they found in only 30 minutes. A younger team might need a little more time.
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