If you google internet search challenge, the top results are published by 21cif, including this blog. But there are other challenges out there:
- Define garrulous.
- Who stated that The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do?
- Where is Mosi-oa-Tunya located?
- Find a copycat recipe for Outback Steakhouse’s Bloomin’ Onion
- Who was the voice of Darth Vadar in the Star Wars movies?
- Who is the current head coach of the Arena Football League’s Columbus team?
- What was the name for one of the first computers invented in 1946 by J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly at the University of Pennsylvania?
Bonus: How much space did it take up?
- What is the name for a number followed by 100 zeros.
Bonus: How do you write this number with exponents?
- What is the real name for Method Man of Wu-Tang Clan?
- What is the meaning of the Welsh word "cymru?"
As this sampling makes clear, the task in most search challenges is to locate obscure information, usually intended to be of interest to the searcher. In addition, the task may be to use a specific type of tool in the process and to keep track of one's search to explain how an answer was found (a difficult thing to remember, actually). The task in all these is what I consider 'speculative searching': you don't know for certain what words to use or where to look.
There are few 'investigative searches,' yet this is where students need the most help. They tend to accept information uncritically; they don't often have investigative questions in mind when they search. So let me leave you with one: what is the author's real reason for producing the site: Save the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus? It's a hoax site, but why? Why does the author invest the energy in keeping the site fresh (and misleading)?
This is a deeper type of search challenge and requires more thought than answering trivia. In fact, the answer is not known. It's a real challenge. If you or your students want to tackle the question--what motivates the author of the Tree Octopus site?-- feel free to add your comments here.