The Mission (Geo)Impossible Scavenger Hunt: Inclusive, Infuriating, Exhilarating

Monday 3:00pm Weeks Geo: 140
Oral Session

Session Chair

Karla Panchuk, University of Saskatchewan/ St. Peter's College
In an introductory physical geology course for STEM and non-STEM majors, it can be a challenge to engage students who don't have a science background. If these students feel they don't belong, they can be reluctant to ask for help, and are more likely to attribute their difficulties to the perceived fatal flaw of not being "science people." The Mission (Geo) Impossible scavenger hunt is a way to engage students of all backgrounds, interests, and skill levels, and have them feel they are making a truly valuable contribution- because they are.

Mission (Geo) Impossible is a scavenger hunt for information. Teams of 3 to 5 students attempt to solve 19 quests by the end of the term in order to receive additional credit on their final grades. Quests require knowledge of topics discussed in class, but are designed so that a wide variety of other knowledge is needed. This could be knowledge of other sciences, the arts, languages, literature, popular culture, or just a knack for solving puzzles. Students are encouraged to make their team as diverse as possible to gain the greatest advantage.

Quests consist of (mostly) Google-proof clues, many of which are only images. Teams submit answers to a dedicated email address and receive a single-word response: correct, incorrect, or proceed. Each time a team successfully completes a quest, it is added to a scoreboard on the LMS. Teams become very engaged in the quests, especially once they solve a particularly difficult one, leading to frenzied pulses of activity at all hours. Students have reported taking their list of quests to lectures and listening extra carefully in case a clue jumps out at them. Non-STEM majors have expressed delight at being able to assist stymied STEM teammates.