Sherlock HolmesWhile I came up with the idea for this activity independently, it seems like it is already a well known Internet phenomenon (what isn’t?). The basic premise of an Internet scavenger hunt is to is to provide students with a set of clues, which they then solve with the aid of a range of websites. The clues can be made available offline, or the entire process can be online. The activity encourages problem solving, creative thinking and collaboration, and can be used to introduce specific new skills to students.

I recently used such an activity as part of a taster day for primary school students visiting our campus. The theme of the day was Sherlock Holmes, which meant that problem solving was a natural fit. The premise was that students had to rescue Watson, who had been kidnapped, using skills which might be taught in the ICT classroom. During the first part of the lesson, students worked in teams to find clues hidden around school. These clues were then brought back to the classroom, where teams worked online to solve them. The final outcome was a numeric code, which opened a combination lock, freeing Watson.

The students were engaged throughout the activity, although some of the challenges were perhaps a little too complex for the time involved. With sufficient scaffolding around half of the groups finished the entire task within the allotted 75 minutes, with all of them making it at least half way through the problem solving component. Some groups did require extensive scaffolding, but many very able to work fairly independently.

If you wish to run this activity, please feel free to use the Sherlock Holmes Online Puzzle, which contains a full set of clues and instructions. Keep in mind that the content is ICT-centric, but I am happy to lend a hand, should you have any questions.

Sherlock Holmes image by ~hnl on deviantART shared under CC BY-NC.