One of my first tasks when arriving at the Cooper Hewitt Museum was to create a scavenger hunt for a design conference for teachers.

The aim of this scavenger hunt was twofold. Teachers would have the opportunity to explore the many objects in the museum while consolidating the four stages of the Cooper Hewitt design process.

Here are some example questions that relate to objects in the current Making Breaking exhibition at the Cooper Hewitt. I have included images of a selection of objects in this exhibition, so see if you can pick the correct object.

  1. Defining Problems: I live on the 5th floor of an apartment building and I can’t get my mode of transport around the corners on the stairs!
  2. Getting Ideas: Handheld, compact, light, smooth, cordless, glue, foam, resin, metal screws, 3D printed, molded plastic, metal, polycarbonate.
  3. Prototyping and Making: From sketch, to model, to first iteration, this piece of furniture is both ‘enigma’ (mystery) and ‘lignum’ (wood).
  4. Testing and Evaluating: Traditionally constricting, bulky and often considered unattractive, this 3D printed iteration is an improvement because it is compact and light, allowing greater movement and has embedded tech.

Scavenger hunts are a fun, engaging activity that encourages critical thinking. Through the use of clues towards finding objects, participants actively interact with information, filter ideas, work collaboratively and connect ideas. Prizes can really harness extrinsic motivation too!

Don’t have an amazing museum full of incredible design objects?

Scavenger hunts can take on a variety of forms in the classroom.

For example:

  • Create a scavenger hunt with a selection of images stored using Padlet, eliminating the need to leave the classroom.
  • Use a scavenger hunt to explore the idea of empathy by basing all questions around the challenge or opportunity the design is addressing for a particular group of people. For example, “A group of students need something to occupy them during playtime that will increase co-ordination, balance and physical activity.” (Playground equipment)
  • Use a scavenger hunt to consolidate understanding of scientific equipment, types of geography maps or literary genres.

Something I hope to trial with my grade 5 students, is using a design process to create a scavenger hunt to assess understanding of animal adaptations.


Treasure hunt collage. To view individual photos visit Cooper Hewitt’s Making Breaking.
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