Thursday, April 17, 2014

QR Code Quest: A library scavenger hunt

All of the 6th-12th grade students at my local public middle and high school receive a school-issued iPad for use during the school year. I see a lot of these students after school, when they walk to the library and hang out playing on their iPads - sometimes together, sometimes alone.

I honestly don't remember where I got the very first idea to create a scavenger hunt with QR codes. Pinterest maybe? My Great Book Character Hunt last winter went over well with this age group (even though it was geared toward elementary-age kids). QR codes are becoming more and more common, and I thought it would be a neat way to give students information about the library in a tech-y way. I learned a lot from The Daring Librarian

Here's an overview of how I created my scavenger hunt:

  1. I wrote out 10 questions I wanted the students to answer. Each question would take the student to a different part of the library, they would write their answer on an answer sheet, and the next QR code would be in that place for them to scan and find the next place. For example: The library currently has over 600 movies that can be checked out. How much does a movie rental cost, and how long can you keep it for? 
  2. *I took a photo of each location, and used PicMonkey to fade it and overlay it with text. I saved each image in my Dropbox (other photo sharing sites like Flickr can also be used - you just need the file to be saved somewhere "public" that will allow you to "copy public link").
  3. *Copy the public link of the image file. Go to and paste the link and shorten it. Copy the new, shorter link (see the Daring Librarian's post for why you want a shorter link). 
  4. I used this really simple QR code generator to make QR codes for my images. Just click on the URL tab and paste the image link, then save the QR code it creates to your computer.  
  5. Then it's just simply choosing Word, Publisher, or any other simple document editor and inserting the QR code images (along with any descriptive text), printing it out, and sticking them around. 
*Numbers 2 & 3 above were extra steps I chose to take, because I wanted to use photos. It is also possible to simply take the text of the questions I created, go directly to the QR code generator, and paste the text to create a QR code. When this kind of QR code is scanned, it will bring up only the text. I'd probably go this route if I make another quest sometime.

Then I created a display with instructions, and hoped the students would come...

If you scan this code:
 It will reveal this picture:

So far not many students have participated. I'm offering a prize drawing as an incentive for completing it, and even though it was advertised as a spring break event, I'm extending it to the end of the month. I also was in touch with one of our local newspaper reporters, and he wrote a nice article about it

This is the most tech-y our library has ever been! I might make use of QR codes in other ways in the future.

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