My son is in a new job at a public library. One of the programs he’d like to get going is based on nature study and I thought maybe a nature-trivia contest would be a fun way to finish the program with.
Has anyone any experience in doing this? What advice would you give in terms of questions? We were thinking maybe two divisions: 7-12 and the 12-17 sort of range to match the program plans.
My fellows at the California Center for Natural History and myself used to do nature trivia for our Valentine’s Day Newt Nite event at a bar, and it was a lot of fun but definitely on the risqué side so I don’t think our questions would work for kids.
I think one thing to keep in mind with trivia is to provide multiple clues within the question itself, which allows or encourages the participants to at least make an educated guess. So if your answer was, say, “Jaguar” you could write a question that’s something like “The Americas’ largest wild cat, this species has yellow fur with spots.” That at least encourages discussion (if they’ll be in teams) and some critical thinking.
I think it’s also good to have at least one “gimme” in each round, so the kids aren’t just shut out.
It’s also good to mix things up a bit. Rather than just oral questions, you can have a handout that has photos, or a map, or one where you have to match things, or a round with a the same possible answers for each questions (eg true or false, or “bug, beetle, or wasp”).
I did an outreach activity a few times with matching pictures of insects to the plants they use. We kept it pretty simple (monarchs looking for milkweeds), but you could easily make it more complicated. One thing that was nice about it was that even very young children could figure out after a few guesses that they were looking for flowers of a certain shape, but if a teenager or adult came up, you could get into more detail about different species, scientific terminology, etc.