Mystery Site Activity - Day One

From: (Charles F. Lindgren)
Subject: Mystery Site Activity - Day One
Date: Wed, 30 Apr 1997 18:54:16 +0100

We introduced the Mystery Site activity to our ten 8th grade classes today.
We have NEVER done anything like this before and approached it with an open
mind. So there would be no question about "Hey, why did I get that site?"
we had students "pick a card any card at all as long as it's a card" and
that created the groups! Our original plan was to run the activity over two
consecutive days. We've abandoned that plan. Just about everyone wanted
time to do more research.

We broke into groups today and gave each group an atlas, and whatever
guidebooks we could scrounge from the life science teachers: trees; weeds;
birds. We also asked the students to bring in anything they wanted that
they thought would help. We were looking for AAA guides, Welcome to . . .
guides etc. No one brought in anything! Each group was also given a single
copy of the data and a set of the photographs. We left them alone for about
20 minutes to see if they could come up with a plan. It was great! My best
advice is to play it by ear. Help and guide where you think its necessary.
Leave others alone. After 20 minutes we gave them the list of coordinates
and said that one of them was the right answer. Many breathed a huge sigh
of relief and felt more comfortable.

We're letting this sit until next Tuesday when the groups will come
together again and present their final results. Each group must say why
they think their location is correct AND they must also say why they
rejected the other four!

It's a fascinating process. One of my very brightest said that this was the
toughest thing he has ever done. Another average student zeroed in on a
site almost immediately (Site #3) and almost convinced me that I was wrong!
He said that it was simple. There was a huge amount of confusion at the
start (with some groups) but that quickly disappeared.

Both of us were thrilled with Day One. Most of the kids also enjoyed the

Charlie Lindgren