Designing Scavengers

By Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, September 17, 2007

Grade Level

  • Middle School


  • People's Design Award

Subject Area

  • Arts
  • Language Arts

Lesson Time

Two or three fifty-minute class periods


One of the most amazing features of Cooper-Hewitt's People’s Design Award website is the diverse collection of objects. The People’s Design Award, which is hosted each year by Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum and sponsored by Target, gives the general public an opportunity to nominate and vote for favorite designs. In this lesson, students will have an opportunity to view the depth and breadth of the collection by exploring the People’s Design Award website, and then creating a scavenger hunt comprised of objects from the collection.

National Standards

Common Core Literacy for Other Subjects 
Common Core English Language Arts 
Language Arts - Reading
Language Arts - Writing
Working With Others
Visual Arts

Common Core State Standards

English Language Arts Standards Writing 

Grade 6-8

Production and Distribution of Writing:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.5 With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on how well purpose and audience have been addressed.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and present the relationships between information and ideas clearly and efficiently.

Production and Distribution of Writing:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

English Language Arts Standards: Speaking and Listening

Grade 6-8

Comprehension and Collaboration:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade level topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.1.A Come to discussions prepared, having read or researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence on the topic, text, or issue to probe and reflect on ideas under discussion.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.2 Analyze the purpose of information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and evaluate the motives (e.g., social, commercial, political) behind its presentation.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.8.3 Delineate a speaker's argument and specific claims, evaluating the soundness of the reasoning and relevance and sufficiency of the evidence and identifying when irrelevant evidence is introduced.
  • Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas:
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.4 Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused, coherent manner with relevant evidence, sound valid reasoning, and well-chosen details; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.5 Integrate multimedia and visual displays into presentations to clarify information, strengthen claims and evidence, and add interest.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate. (See grade 8 Language standards 1 and 3 here for specific expectations.)

English Language Arts Standards: Reading Informational Text

Grade 6-8    

Key Ideas and Details:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6-8.1 Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6-8.8 Trace and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is sound and the evidence is relevant and sufficient to support the claims.


Students will:
  • conduct internet research
  • participate in small-group and large-group discussion
  • analyze, summarize, critique, and evaluate information from varied sources
  • work collaboratively in small groups
  • create a scavenger hunt using resources from the People’s Design Award website



  • Computer with internet access


Building Background
Introducing the People’s Design Award The purpose of this activity is to introduce students to different aspects of the People’s Design Award.
  1. Introduce the most recent People’s Design Award website to your students. The 2013 website is As a class, browse the different sections of the site to give students a comprehensive overview and background knowledge about the award.
  2. Divide the class into groups of three students. Ask the students to respond in writing to the following prompt: You are at a staff meeting of your city’s local newspaper. Your boss wants you to write a newspaper article headline that captures the most important elements of the People’s Design Award. She feels that people don’t know enough about design or the competition. As you write your headline, make it compelling, exciting, and engaging. Remember, you are on deadline!
  3. Ask each group to write its headline on the blackboard. After the students have finished, lead a class discussion comparing and contrasting the different headlines.
Steps for Learning
Go Hunt! The purpose of this activity is to give students an opportunity to explore the People’s Design Award website.
  1. Divide the class into small groups and ask them to complete the “Design Scavenger Hunt: Part One” handout (attached).
  2. Ask each group to design its own scavenger hunt on the "Design Scavenger Hunt: Part Two" handout (attached). Encourage creativity, as there is no one correct way to construct the scavenger hunt.


Ask the students to write a paragraph describing what they learned about the diverse submissions on the People’s Design Award website.

Enrichment Extension Activities

Differentiation for Elementary School:
  • Design is all around us, but it may be invisible to young kids! Students can create a design scavenger hunt of designs in their classroom or in their school. In teams, they can go on a "hunt" to find design examples such as furniture design, cars, toy designs, graphic design on posters or books, even the school building itself.
  • Teams can create a treasure map scavenger hunt for their peers.
  • Allow teams to exchange their treasure maps with another team and go on a hunt to find their design examples.
Differentiation for High School: For some graphic design experience, have your students work with design software on computers to finalize the look of their scavenger hunts. As a class, vote on the designs according to these categories:
  1. Most visually appealing
  2. Most easy to read and understand
  3. Best use of typography
  4. Best use of layout and composition
  5. Best use of color
  1. What a great way to generate awareness of design specifically through Cooper-Hewitts People’s Design Award website (great site!). The mock newspaper assignment and scavenger hunt sound like great ‘hooks’ of engagement for students. Awesome.

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