Science Wednesday: On the Green Hunt

About the Author: As the news director for EPA’s Office of Research and Development, Melissa-Anley Mills is always on the hunt for good science stories. She joined the Agency in 1998 as a National Urban Fellow.

Oh boy, it’s Sunday night, and I can’t wait to get to work tomorrow and tell my co-workers that this weekend I met The Raging Blue Robots, Saturnalia, Nuts for Squirrels and the Taco Buddahs. Now these aren’t the names of the latest bands to hit the DC music scene who hope to win legions of adoring fans, these are folks with an entirely different focus: winning the Marian Koshland Science Museum’s first annual eco-scavenger hunt called “The Green Hunt.”

You see, on Saturday, I helped staff The Green Hunt for the U.S. EPA. Free to the public, the event honored Earth Science Week 2008 and was designed to inform people about climate and earth science, and show that urban environments provide great learning opportunities for outdoor science activities.

photo of familyAs we neared the start time, we were anxious to see who’d burst through the Koshland doors proclaiming “We’re here for the Hunt!” From 11 until about 4:30 a diverse set of teams arrived, all ready to run around the neighborhood, looking for science clues: Teams of friends, teams of big sister/mentors, teams of college students on a homework mission, mom-headed teams, dad-headed teams, mom-and-dad-headed teams, abuela y padres headed teams.

photo of people huddled around a table covered in papersOnce their time cards were stamped, they were off! Dashing about DC’s Penn Quarter trying to complete the clues and challenges as fast as possible. There were challenges for the observant, brain teasers, some math, and things that you had to track down and take photos of or doodle. Once the teams checked back in and had their return time recorded they headed to the registration desk to have their answers checked.

Here are links to the map and clue sheet from the hunt you can use to set up a similar science event in your own town, city, or school. So, what did folks think? The general consensus was: FUN – for both the teams and for me! Not bad for my Saturday at “work!”