Day 4: STEM Scavenger Hunt

Welcome to the STEM Outdoor Scavenger Hunt! This interactive scavenger hunt will take you on a journey through various STEM concepts while exploring the Iowa State campus. Let's begin!

 Scavenger Hunt Rules:

1. Form teams of 2-4 students. 

2. Assign a team captain to keep track of progress and submit the final answers on the Padlet -scan QR code for Padlet. Password: STEM

3. Follow all safety guidelines and respect the environment.

4. Each team must have a camera to document and post their findings on the Padlet -scan QR for Padlet. Password: STEM

5. Take and share on the Padlet a photo of your team. Title it with your team name. Scan QR for Padlet. Password: STEM 


Scavenger Hunt List:



  • Find and identify different species of birds in the area. Take a picture and post their names.

  • Locate an insect or arachnid. Take a close-up photo and describe its characteristics.

  • Identify two different types of trees and explain one unique feature of each.

  • Observe and document the behavior of a local animal species. Describe their habitat, feeding habits, and any interesting adaptations they possess.

  • Find a decomposer organism (e.g., fungus, bacteria) and explain its role in nutrient cycling within an ecosystem.

  • Investigate a water source like a pond and identify different aquatic plant species. Describe their adaptations for living in a watery environment.

  • Locate and photograph a symbiotic relationship between two different organisms (e.g., mutualism, commensalism, parasitism) and explain the benefits or drawbacks for each participant.


  • Measure and record the height of a tall building on campus using a clinometer. A clinometer is in your kit. Post a picture using the clinometer as well as your measurements.

  • Find a simple machine in the environment and post a photo and explain how it makes work easier.

  • Capture a video of a team member demonstrating the laws of motion (e.g., Newton’s first law or the conservation of momentum) using a nearby object.

  • Investigate the effect of different angles on projectile motion. Build a small catapult using the popsicle sticks, rubber  bands and spoon. Launch the marble at various angles, measuring the range and analyzing the relationship between angle and distance traveled.


  • Discover and photograph an example of a natural chemical reaction occurring in the environment.

  • Collect a water sample from a nearby source (e.g., pond, stream). Test its pH using pH paper included in the kit and share the result on the Padlet.

  • Identify and photograph three different types of rocks or minerals, and explain how they are formed.

  • Explore the concept of chromatography by separating pigments from different plant leaves or flowers. Document the separation process and identify the different pigments present. You’ll need the paper towel from your Scavenger Hunt zipper pouch. Google “chromatography.”


  • Take a group photo in front of the building on the Iowa State Campus that was named after a famous botanist. This botanist is known for  his research and promotion of alternative crops to cotton, such as peanuts, soybeans, and sweet potatoes, which helped to diversify the agricultural landscape and improve soil fertility. Post your picture and the name of the famous botanist.

  • Collect samples of leaves from five different plants. Arrange them on a piece of paper and label each with the plant’s name and a description of its unique characteristics.

  • Find a plant with a modified stem (e.g., rhizome, stolon) and explain its purpose.

  • Observe and document the process of pollination or seed dispersal by photographing or sketching the relevant plant parts.

  • Research and identify three different types of plant reproductive strategies (e.g., asexual reproduction, self-pollination, wind pollination) and provide examples of plants that employ each strategy.

  • Investigate the concept of phototropism. Observe and document the growth of a plant toward a light source and explain the physiological processes behind it.

  • Study the phenomenon of leaf senescence (leaf aging) by observing and comparing leaves of different ages on a plant. Note any visible changes and discuss their purpose.



  • Find a natural Fibonacci sequence (e.g., in flower petals, pinecones) and take a photo to illustrate it.

  • Explore the concept of fractals in nature. Find and document examples of natural objects or patterns that exhibit self-similarity (e.g., fractal tree branches, coastline fractals) and explain their mathematical properties.

  • Go to the Marston Hall: On the north side of Marston Hall, you’ll find a sundial. If the sundial’s gnomon (the triangular piece that casts a shadow) is 3 feet tall and the length of the shadow it casts at 2 PM is 6 feet, what is the angle of elevation of the sun at that time?


  • In the Black Engineering Building, locate the Robotics and Control Systems Lab. Inside, you’ll find a display showcasing various 

  • Aerospace Engineering Challenge (Howe Hall): Inside Howe Hall, find the wind tunnel used for aerodynamic testing. Learn about the principles of aerodynamics and how wind tunnels are used to study the behavior of aircraft or other objects in motion. Sketch a simple airplane design and label the components that contribute to lift and drag.

STEM Riddles:

Riddle 1:

I have keys but no locks. I have space but no room. You can enter, but you can’t go outside. What am I?


Riddle 2:

I am taken from a mine and shut up in a wooden case, from which I am never released, and yet I am used by almost every person. What am I?



Riddle 3:

I speak without a mouth and hear without ears. I have no body, but I come alive with the wind. What am I?



Riddle 4:

I have a head and a tail, but no body. What am I?



Riddle 5:

I have keys that open no locks, I have space, but no room. You can enter, but can’t go inside. What am I?



Riddle 6:

I have cities, but no houses. I have mountains, but no trees. I have water, but no fish. What am I?



Riddle 7:

I am light as a feather, yet the strongest person can’t hold me for much longer than a minute. What am I?



Riddle 8:

I am full of holes, but still hold water. What am I?



Riddle 9:

I am a word of letters three, add two, and fewer there will be. What am I?



Riddle 10:

The more you take, the more you leave behind. What am I?



Remember to have fun, work together as a team, and learn from the experience. Once you have completed the scavenger hunt, compile your findings and submit them to the designated authority. Enjoy your STEM Scavenger Hunt adventure!


Have a fantastic time exploring these additional STEM concepts!