Dig­i­tal scav­enger hunt sur­pris­ing success

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - GABRIEL KHOULI gkhouli@cov­news.com

Schools are con­stantly look­ing for ways to use tech­nol­ogy in and out­side of the class­room to pre­pare chil­dren for the high-tech world that awaits them, but veteran fifth grade teacher Mary Hor­ton was as­tounded by the ef­fec­tive­ness of tech­nol­ogy on a re­cent field trip.

Hor­ton has taken stu­dents to At­lanta’s Cy­clo­rama for around 20 years and for years she had the chil­dren par­tic­i­pate in an ed­u­ca­tional scav­enger hunt of­fered by Cy­clo­rama of­fi­cials. How­ever, she gave up on the hunt five years ago be­cause her stu­dents had be­come less mo­ti­vated to fin­ish the ac­tiv­ity and more mo­ti­vated to goof off and run wild. This year Hor­ton took

a dif­fer­ent ap­proach with sur­pris­ingly ef­fec­tive re­sults. She worked with Heard Mixon Ele­men­tary Schools’ tech­nol­ogy ex­pert, Kim Aldridge, and her fel­low fifth grade teach­ers to de­velop a dig­i­tal scav­enger hunt us­ing the school’s iPods.

“It was ab­so­lutely amaz­ing. We didn’t have kids run­ning around; they took their time. Our jaws dropped,” Hor­ton said. “All of us teach­ers were walking around and the stu­dents al­ways yak and talk, but this was a dif­fer­ent kind of learn­ing talk.”

The teach­ers trained the stu­dents on how to take pic­tures with the iPods, and then tweaked the tra­di­tional scav­enger hunt, which pre­vi­ously only re­quired stu­dents to write an­swers to ques­tions. Now the stu­dents had

to not only an­swer ques­tions through a test ap­pli­ca­tion on their iPod, such as how many Civil War sol­diers’ hat are lo­cated in the mu­seum, but also had to take pic­tures of the hats, as well as many of the other ar­ti­facts and kiosks.

The stu­dents were paired into teams of two and ro­tate be­tween tak­ing pic­tures and writ­ing down an­swers. They also had to in­cor­po­rate them­selves into at least one photo, pro­vid­ing a fun el­e­ment.

On the way back home, the stu­dents up­loaded the pho­tos to a mo­bile dig­i­tal ap­pli­ca­tion called Splice, which al­lows users to cre­ate movies and au­dio slideshows. The stu­dents made a photo slideshow with the an­swers dis­played and then added mu­sic.

“It was very neat,” Hor­ton said. “On the bus ride way home you could hear a pin drop. Usu­ally on the way to home, they’re talk­ing like crazy. Some got their movie be­fore we got back to school.”

Us­ing the school sys­tem’s eLearn sys­tem stu­dents can upload the as­sign­ments to the web and then re­view and eval­u­ate each other’s as­sign­ments.

“They’ve really grown and thor­oughly en­joyed it,” Hor­ton said.

Hor­ton said her fel­low teach­ers, Sandi New­sham, Ni­cole Roberts and Misti Smith, helped her work out the lo­gis­tics so stu­dents wouldn’t bunch up at the same sta­tions.

Given the success of the trip, Aldridge, the school’s tech ex­pert, will share the pro­gram with tech­nol­ogy train­ers at the other schools in the sys­tem to see if they can find ap­pli­ca­tions at other schools.

“It could be used on any kind of field trip if you can find a way to do it. It really en­gaged the stu­dents and was an awe in­spir­ing thing to watch,” Hor­ton said. “We didn’t have to say go to this thing and then go that one. We had to di­rect a lit­tle bit, but for the most part stu­dents were ac­tively look­ing for the an­swers. It was really neat; I know Ill do it ev­ery year from this point on.”

Photo courtesy of Mary Hor­ton

Veteran fifth grade teacher Mary Hor­ton was as­tounded by the ef­fec­tive­ness of tech­nol­ogy on a re­cent field trip to At­lanta’s Cy­clro­mama.

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