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In Search of a Quest
These days there are any number of inventive and creative ways of teaching. One of the fastest growing (and wildest (-: ) is the internet. You’ve seen examples of how the internet has been integrated into classroom lessons. With all the successes and the promise for the future, there are also reservations about the safety and credibility of the internet, making it problematic to use with students. To support the integration of the internet and promote productive use of its vast resources, educators have created "quests." These “quests” provide real world opportunities in a safe environment that also support a unique way to deliver curriculum content.
Quests do come in various shapes and flavors and we need to clarify the types. MayaQuest™ and the type of quest formerly associated with Classroom Connect represent one type of quest in which teams of people usually trek across distant lands and groups of students follow along with the virtual expedition via the internet. It is often interactive via e-mail and there is a high degree of participation by the classes through curriculum directed activities. This kind of quest usually lasts several weeks and may cover many different topics. It is designed by a group, sometimes a commercial enterprise, and participants join in at whatever level is appropriate for them; it offers many resources and opportunities for students around the world.
WebQuests represent another type of “quest” but they are quite different from the trek or expedition kind of “quest”. WebQuests can be short or long term, they are focused on a specific area and a doable task, they have specific components, they are most often created by teachers and they emphasize higher order thinking skills.
Our focus for this month is the first type of quest mentioned, the trek or virtual expedition. Because Classroom Connect terminated its own brand of Quest, an unfortunate situation for those of us who recognized the true value in that type of activity, we need to locate other similar resources to use with our students. There is good news; there are now many similar expeditionary quests, they are of high quality with great resources and many of them are free!
The most important consideration involved in the decision to design or to participate in a quest is this:
does it fit your curriculum,
can it be tied to local, state or national curriculum standards,
will it replace an area that hasn't been working well,
is it worth any fee required,
is it reliable - does it have a proven track record, and
can you dedicate the time to it because it does so many other things well?

If “yes” is the answer, follow these links below and happy questing!
These sites change very frequently by their very nature; the expedition lasts for a period of time and then moves on to other topics. I went to Google and used "virtual expedition" as the search term and had good luck in finding alternative Quests to use in the curriculum.
http://www.gsn.org/expeditions/ - Thanks to the Web you can have incredible adventures in exotic locales without spending a dime or leaving the room. Whether explorers travel the Silk Road of China or climb Mt. Everest, learning becomes an unforgettable adventure as students join thrilling, real-time expeditions to remote and fascinating locations. Observe daily progress and read field dispatches. Best of all, interact with adventurers through intriguing dialogue as they reenact history - or even make history. Scroll to the bottom for recommended expeditions and links.

Amazon Katydids- Amazon Basin, east of Iquitos, Peru Katydids, known for their cricket-like nocturnal singing, can be found in forests throughout the world. But the 360 species of katydids identified so far in the Peruvian Amazon come in a startling array of colors, shapes, and sizes. Since bats, birds, monkeys, rodents, snakes, spiders, wasps, and even ants dine on katydids, these crepuscular choristers have evolved amazing adaptations to elude predators. Camouflage artists, katydids mimic twigs, pieces of bark, leaves, lichen, even bird droppings as they rest, otherwise defenseless, during the day. Since 1987, Dave Nickle has been studying these intriguing insects with the help of EarthCorps volunteers. This field season, they will continue collecting data on katydid taxonomy, biology, ecology, and behavior by studying defense and pair formation. In terms of defense, teams will test theories regarding the choice of background, dispersal, and visual characteristics of katydids that mimic plant parts. In terms of finding a mate, they will investigate the effects of predation on the evolution of katydid calling behavior. How do these insects resolve the conflict of attracting mates rather than predators?
Andrew Jackson's Hermitage- The Hermitage Archaeology Program is a multiyear study of slave life at the plantation home of Andrew Jackson. Recent archaeological studies of slave life in the ante-bellum U.S. are showing that slaves did not lead passive lives in complete acceptance of their social condition. Research has shown that slave communities worked toward actively transforming and successfully altering their circumstances by participating in the local and regional economies of both white and other slave communities. Excavations will reveal how slaves of the Hermitage altered and redesigned their allotted space and buildings on the plantation.
Explore with Teachers in the Arctic and Antarctic Regions - research expeditions at the poles
Expeditions from the Discovery Channel that include trips to explore an avalanche and another for turtles.
Live From Antarctica 2 - a NASA project which requires registration also other quests can be found at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/calendar/index.html
Solar System Online - Has now merged with other online quest but still has the 1996 NASA launch of two missions to Mars. The Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft took off in November and reached the orbit of Mars on September 11, 1997 to begin an orbital mission that will provide detailed mapping and weather information. The Mars Pathfinder spacecraft blasted away in December and landed on the Red Planet on July 4, 1997. The micro-rover Sojourner has wandered its way around the Martian terrain, returning a wealth of new science data.
Sites Alive! Expeditions - semester long projects for Spring '99 include Oceans Live-Caribbean Sea, Rain forest Live-Australia, Class Afloat Live-Concordia, and Wetlands Live-Mexico
Internet Challenges - Central America Treks from Big Chalk Changes have happened at Big Chalk and it appears as though they are presently charging to access this site. Go to Big Chalk home page to figure it all out.
Antarctica Expedition from Rice University
http://www.fmnh.org/education/feinman/feinman_letters.htm - A Virtual Archeological Expedition to China
The JASON Foundation for Education is dedicated to inspiring in students a lifelong passion to pursue learning in science, math, and technology through exploration and discovery.
EarthWatch Global classroom - Through our worldwide network of scientists, teacher fellows, and volunteers you can access expedition photos, reports, and lessons online.
From the BRIDGE website which is part of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science here is a list of websites that provide expeditions for classes:
Extreme 2001: A Deep-Sea Odyssey - Register now to be part of this October 2001 online adventure. Forty classrooms will have the opportunity to participate in live conference phone calls with scientists as they explore the hydrothermal vent communities in the depths of the Pacific.
REVEL Project - September 1-19, 2000, four REVEL teachers sailed aboard the R/V Atlantis 200 miles off the coast of Washington and Canada studying the hydrothermal processes on the sea floor of the Endeavour Ridge and participating in the Alvin submersible operations with an international team of scientists.
Estuary Live - Classes, school groups and individuals can log on and virtually participate in a real-time field trip to the Rachel Carson site of the North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve. Ask questions, view live video and images, and learn about the estuary from experts.
Rosita - From March 2000 through the summer of 2001, Dr. Michael Moore (researcher at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution), his family, and crew are sailing the Rosita around the North Atlantic Ocean searching for northern right whales. Follow along and map their marine mammal sightings.
Dive and Discover - Join scientists as they dive to the mid-ocean ridge thousands of meters deep. Explore towering underwater volcanoes, black smokers, and bizarre creatures that live there. Jump on board with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the National Science Foundation.
9 Degrees North - In November 1999 and April 2000, a team of scientists, students, and film makers ventured to hydrothermal vent sites at 9 degrees North in the Eastern Pacific aboard WHOI's Atlantis with the submersible Alvin. The site contains daily reports and images, profiles of the scientists and technicians involved, and an "Ask Us!" section. Brought to you by the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Center.
Jason XI: Going to Extremes - Look at sea and space through the eyes of modern day explorers by comparing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) Aquarius Underwater Laboratory in the Florida Keys with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA’s) International Space Station.
EXTREME 2000: Voyage to the Deep - Travel with scientists as they take the submersible Alvin down a mile and a half to study the biology, chemistry and geology of hydrothermal vents in the Sea of Cortés. Site features include a dive log, daily journal, and video clips in addition to background information on the mission.
Ocean AdVENTure - Take this virtual tour of hydrothermal vents to learn the basics about vents, how they're studied, the associated biology and geology, and consider the ethics about vent mining. This site also has a forum for discussion and learning activities.
@Sea - Follow the research expeditions of scientists at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution. Missions include biomedical and biodiversity research in the Florida Keys, vertical migration in the Gulf of Maine, and a shark roundup off the coast of Brazil.
Sustainable Seas Expeditions - Join National Geographic and the National Marine Sanctuary Program as they take submersibles down 2000 feet below the surface to study the biology of each of our nation's 12 marine sanctuaries. The project includes live web chats and video uplinks with esteemed scientists like Dr. Sylvia Earle.
Student Connection - This website is your connection to the Townsend Cromwell, a NOAA fisheries research vessel off the Hawaiian Islands. Read updates on the ship's research cruises to study lobster, tuna, swordfish, seals, coral reef fish, seabirds and more. You can also email questions to the ship and read responses to previous questions.
Search for Giant Squid - From February 20 to March 25, 1999, scientists from the United States and New Zealand collaborated in all aspects of an expedition to locate the world's largest invertebrate, the giant squid (Architeuthis). Meet the scientists and follow the expedition's daily log from this website, or learn more about the biology and habitat of the giant squid.
Voyage to Puna Ridge - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the University of Hawaii team up to study the Puna Ridge, Hawaii's submarine volcanic ridge. In addition to daily updates from the scientists you'll find teaching modules, Teacher on Board mini-lessons and journals, science factoids, and a glossary of terms.
NeMO 2000 - NOAA scientists investigate the undersea volcano Axial, to examine the relationships between volcanic events and the chemistry and biology of hydrothermal vents. On the website you will find daily scientific logs, classroom activities, photographs, and a chance to e-mail questions to scientists onboard.
American Museum of Natural History Expedition: Black Smoker - Beginning June 26, 1998, follow this joint mission between AMNH and the University of Washington to raise a black smoker from the deep.
Reefs of the Gulf - A submarine tour of the Gulf of Mexico with classroom units on light in water, sea turtles, and remote sensing the bottom of the ocean.
Trolling for Fish Food - Follow these reports from a July research cruise to track zoo plankton (food for many fish) using sonar and other high tech equipment in hopes of learning more about fish populations.
Palau: Paradise of the Pacific - PBS Online's tour of Palau with its unique habitats and marine life. Also includes teaching activities.
GOALS (Global Online Adventure Learning Site) - Brings real life adventures to the World Wide Web, with emphasis on science, technology and nature.