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Carol Rizzardi
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Fact-finding scavenger hunt

Fact-finding scavenger hunt

Carol Rizzardi of Newfield High School in Selden, N.Y.

Carol Rizzardi
Newfield High School
Selden, N.Y.

Title: Fact-finding scavenger hunt


  • To learn the importance of looking up and verifying information, including “facts” that are commonly accepted and answers from “experts”
  • To reinforce the responsibility of the journalist to double-check facts


Students are placed into teams and told they are going on a scavenger hunt. I then give them a list of 50 wide-ranging questions from those that can only be answered by going someplace in the community to those that require some research. Students spend a class period in the library to get started and have two (or three) days on their own to complete the questions.

On the due date, we review questions and answers in class. The team with the most correct answers wins a prize.


I try to construct the questions to require a range of resource materials, from online resources to local phone books to almanacs, and I include a few trick questions. Sample questions are listed below.

Local information requiring students to go somewhere

  • Who is the owner/operator of the 7-Eleven at Middle Country Road and Marshall Drive? There is a sign in the window with the owner’s name.
  • What is the speed limit on Middle Country Road at Boyle Road? The speed limit on Middle Country Road changes. Students must go to the location to check the fact.

Trick questions requiring students to confirm “obvious” information

  • In what country is the Amsterdam News printed? The Amsterdam News is a black newspaper in New York City.
  • Under the Articles of Confederation, who was the first U.S. president? A great trick question because the kids will assume George Washington. So will most experts (social studies teachers) they consult. The answer is John Hansen!
  • How much is admission to the Smithsonian Museums? The answer is “free.”
  • Where did the New York Giants play baseball? This didn’t start out to be a trick question. The answer is the Polo Grounds, but the only New York Giants most of the students (and their parents!) have heard of are football players!
  • What religion has the largest number of adherents in the world? I like this question because it helps emphasize the diversity in the world. The answer is Islam, but even some of my colleagues argued Christianity. It’s also a question that is most easily answered by using an almanac, something my Internet devotees resist!

Listening carefully

  • What are two different newspapers or magazines where Ms. Rizzardi worked? How closely did they pay attention? I use this question if I have done a class using my clips from various publications I worked for in the past. In this class, I distribute copies of my articles and encourage students to tell me what’s good and what’s bad about each article.

Other questions I like and why

  • What is the country code for Latvia? Requires students to use a phone book.
  • What four streets border the Flatiron Building? I don’t tell them where the Flatiron is (New York City), so it requires them to find out that information first.
  • What do Frank Chance, Joe Tinker, and Johnny Evers have in common? Baseball fans will recognize the triple-play trio, Tinker, Evers, Chance. Giving the names in a different order makes the question not as obvious.
  • In the civil rights movement, what was SNCC? What did it do? Students find out about these brave young people who risked so much in the civil rights movement.
  • What is a Baked Alaska? Fun question
  • How do you get to LaGuardia Airport on public transportation? (no cabs) We’re on Long Island where cars are ubiquitous. This question forces students to look for options to cars and to use a variety of resources.



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