The Amazing Race Project

What is it?

    This project integrates reading, writing, and social studies in a manner resembling the popular television show The Amazing Race.

    Introduction video

    Details

    Our kick-off date this year was May 16, 2011. Students worked in small groups for a week to write ten United States geographic regions questions. They then typed these questions into a blog, and we used http://goo.gl/ to create QR codes.

    We picked the most thoughtful and engaging questions to use in our Amazing Race. Students spent the next two weeks competing in the Amazing Race

    If you have questions or are interested in joining us next year, please contact us.

Resources for Writing Clues

Factual questions that can be found with a simple Google search.

  • What is the state capital of Florida?
  • What was the population of Michigan in the 2010 census?
  • What is the state flower of Texas?

Answers can probably be found with a Google search, but the searching may take some time.

  • Which U.S. presidents were born in Ohio?
  • What was the population change in Detroit between 2000 and 2010?
  • What is the main ingredient in gumbo?

The answers involve searching for information and using it to solve the question.

  • If you were to walk 3 miles per hour, how many minutes would it take to cross the Mackinac Bridge?
  • Travel to a weird Michigan attraction, the World’s Largest Cherry Pie Pan - Find out the name of the city and how many miles it is from Port Huron.
  • The French Quarter is the oldest part of the city of New Orleans. It is the home of many attractions, museums, restaurants, shops, and hotels. On the blank map of the French Quarter, plot your route according to the directions below. Label each stop with the corresponding number. Use the maps from FrenchQuarter.com to help you.
    1. Start at the Canal Street Ferry.
    2. Buy some jazz CDs at the Louisiana Music Factory.
    3. Grab some lunch at Café Du Monde.
    4. Visit a historic mansion, the Beauregard-Keyes House.
    5. Buy some crazy souvenirs at Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo.
    6. See where money used to be printed at the Old U.S. Mint.
    7. Relax along the riverfront at Woldenberg Park.
    8. Enjoy a delicious dinner at Petunia’s.
    9. Buy Mr. Curran an expensive gift at Hoover Watches & Jewels.
    10. End your day by choosing a hotel to stay in for the night.

How We Created the Race

We thought about how to setup the Amazing Race Project for a long time. We thought about using wikis and blogs, but we ultimately ended up using Google Sites. Google Sites allowed for the easy setup that we desired and had special navigation features, which I'll talk more about later. We created a Google Sites page for each group, which we indexed on the Amazing Race Project Google Sites page.

Amazing Race Project Homepage

We embedded a Google Form on each group page that included cells for the region, question, answer, and source.

Amazing Race Project Form

By using the Google Form we were able to monitor all group work through shared Google Doc Spreadsheets.

Amazing Race Project Spreadsheet

After all the clues were written, we read through them all. We selected the ten clues we found most challenging, most interesting, most amazing. We put each clue on a Google Sites page, which we did not put in the index. The pages were virtually hidden.

Amazing Race Project Clue

The Amazing Race began with a toss-up clue given orally. After a group found the answer to that clue they received a QR Code.

Amazing Race Project QRCode

Go ahead and scan that code. It'll really take you to a clue of ours. We created the code using the very simple Google Shortener. Students scanned the clue using built in webcams and QReader software. After scanning the clues, students had to write the clue down in their notebooks. They used group laptops to find the answer to the question. Student submitted the answers to either teacher. If the answer was correct, they received the next QR Code.

The Amazing Race Project was trully amazing. We've blogged about our experience: Managing A Classroom. We'd love to hear about your experience or questions you have: Contact Us.

June 2011 Newsletter Text

The Amazing Race Project, based off of the television show, is a project we’ve been running annually for the past five years. The project is the culminating experience for our students in social studies. In the beginning, students simply competed in the Amazing Race that we, the teachers, created. However, this project has evolved and improved over time. Five years later, our students have created the clues and are now in the middle of completing the race.

We spent a week (about 5 hours) modeling and writing clues. Before students actually began writing clues, we discussed different levels of clue sophistication. We expected each group to write at least two clues from each of the five regions of the United States studied this year. We encouraged students to begin by writing simple clues and then challenged them to revise the clues into moderate or challenging clues. Groups submitted their clues through a Google Form embedded on a Google Site. Each group had their own page and form, so we could track each group’s progress. Students used their social studies book as a reference guide but did most of their clue creating through Google searches. Each team of three had their own laptop to use.

After the week was up and nearly 200 clues were written, we selected our top 10 student written clues. These clues were then placed on hidden Google Site’s pages. The pages were given essentially random names (actually they were English Premier League cities, which is random to most children in America). Next, we entered each clue page into Google URL Shortener where the quick response (QR) code was screen captured and printed.

We installed QR reader software on six desktop computers. The race began with a simple clue being given orally just to create a small stagger in groups receiving the first real clue of the race. After a team successfully answered the toss-up question, they were given a QR code. They ran, not walked, to the nearest room with a QR reader, scanned their code, wrote the clue down, ran back to their laptops, and began trying to solve the question. Upon solving the clue, they received their second QR code and so on. We created a few road block and detour questions to help add a little flare to the project and to allow us to regulate how long the race would actually take to complete.

We’ve completed week one of two for the Amazing Race. Students unanimously agreed that it was the best week of social studies all year. And teachers agreed, unanimously, that it was the most learning done by students in social studies this year. This project is incredibly adaptable, and we look forward to the new shapes and technologies it will take on next year. You can always find more information about our Amazing Race Project on our website at http://www.engagingeducators.com/amazing-race.html.