Finding the real treasure

exploring: scavenger hunts for grownups
engaging: a big game in Houston streets
learning: everything is bigger in Texas, even learning in a team

21. July 2011 by Bea Beste

We at playDUcation are working intensely on a product that creates learning adventures for kids. We are replacing the classic tutorial with a product designed to repair the self-motivation of learning for kids. One of our biggest sources of inspiration and perhaps soon a playDUcative principle are scavenger hunts and treasure discovery.

During my education expedition back in April at the EO University in Houston, Texas, there was a big game for all the participants at the conference. EO (which stands for Entrepreneurs Organization), a worldwide club of entrepreneurs I’m member of, does not lobby or sell things to one another but is a network of entrepreneurs supporting and learning from each other.

This so-called University is a learning event where entrepreneurs from the whole world attend lectures, presentations, workshops, networking opportunities (what you normally have at conferences) and very “cool” events (what maybe only EO members get at at EO Universities - at least we believe that).
EO playducative
One such “cool thing” was the Geoteaming event— an experience and a learning opportunity to remember. It rocked! Imagine 500 company CEOs or CFOs, people in their 30s and 40s from all over the world, roaming the Houston streets in teams, parks and buildings on a scavenger hunter and treasure discovery.

How did it unfold? We all came together in the big conference room, got split into cultural villages (such as the Italian village, the German village or the Chinese Village) that did not correspond to your own nationality. So I became Chinese for the day. Then, the villages were split into teams, each of them getting a colour. I chose red. OMG, how did I find myself in the “Chinese Red” team? I’m a former fugitive from the Romanian dictatorship in the 80s!
EO playducative
They laid out the rules for each team and handed us a rucksack with some gadgets that would help us to locate tiny treasures hidden across the city, the so-called geocaches. These GPS-enabled devices allowed us to share our hunt online and as a total techie, I felt like a kid on Christmas. (Others took that more seriously).
EO playducative
We decided on a spokesperson for each team, and they got all together to discuss “the big picture”. The task was simple: There are hidden containers with hints in various parts of the city. In exactly three hours each village was to go find all of them, take creative pictures at each station and be back on time without using any transportation vehicles.

Our spokespersons divided all goals among the teams, so that each team had a certain area to run around.

So the fun began! A mix of discovery, discussion of roles within the team, failing fast, failing better, wining quicker and last minute getting our missions accomplished was all in a day’s work.
EO playducative
The most playDUcative element of it all was the team dynamics: Who took on the leadership? Who was pushing boundaries? Who was keeping track of time? Who went for creativity and out-of-the box solutions? Who was moaning and who was still laughing despite high temperatures and humidity and hurting feet?

My team consisted of people I just met. I learned a lot about myself reflecting how I was acting at the different stations of the hunt, and by getting and giving feedback to each member of the team.

On top of everything else, I don’t think I ever got to know a big city in such a short amount of time!

One of the other days, I saw a tweet of one of the most inspiring educational leaders I’ve met, Stephen Harris, principal of SCIL in Australia: "Bombard the brain with new experiences. Remove the shackles of past experiences." A scavenger hunt offers such a bombardment, and that’s what we too wish to use as an ingredient for playDUcation.

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Thank you John Chen for the pictures - and most of all, for an unforgettable experience. John is the founder and CEO of Geoteaming (on the photo: the guy in green).

John Chen

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