the lost liners
meet bob ballard
ocean evolution
under the sea
diagram of a colossus
teacher resources
Lost Liners Scavenger Hunt


The men and women who scoured the ocean floors in search of the lost liners sought treasure and a connection to the past. This lesson allows students to scour the Internet in for facts and information. Based on the PBS program Lost Liners, this activity is devised to help students learn about 4 different types of search engines and practice their Internet searching skills.


  • Students will use their Internet searching skills to find information about the Titanic, Lusitania, and the Empress of Ireland - ships lost at sea.
  • Student will understand the differences between different search engines.
  • Students will narrow their searches to find more specific information.
  • Students will use search engines to find given information.
  • Students will practice basic Internet browser navigation to find information.

Estimated Time
1 1/2 - 2 hours

Necessary Materials

Relevant National Standards
This lesson addresses the following national standards:

National Social Studies Standards

2. Time, Continuity, and Change
3. People, Places, and Environment
8. Science, Technology, and Society
9. Global Connections

National Educational Technology
1. Basic operations and concepts

  • Students are proficient in the use of technology.
    2. Social, ethical, and human issues
  • Students develop positive attitudes toward technology uses that support lifelong learning, collaboration, personal pursuits, and productivity.
    5. Technology research tools
  • Students use technology to locate, evaluate, and collect information from a variety of sources.
  • Students use technology tools to process data and report results.
  • Students evaluate and select new information resources and technological innovations based on the appropriateness to specific tasks.
    6. Technology problem-solving and decision-making tools
  • Students use technology resources for solving problems and making informed decisions.
  • Students employ technology in the development of strategies for solving problems in the real world.

    Teaching Procedure

    1. View videotape. Have students write down one or two questions they may have relating to the program. One particular liner and its story may have piqued their interest; have them note the name of that ship for later exploration. Explain that they are going to use the Internet to find the answers to those questions and others.

    2. Define the term "search engine." Explain to students that a search engine uses software (often called robots or spiders) to help scan documents on the Internet for key topics or words. It indexes those words in a database. When a user of the search engine enters the key words, the URLs (Uniform Resource Locators or address) of the pages with those words appear on the screen as links.

    3. Describe the different ways of searching.

      • Question-based searching
        Type in a question, as if you were asking somebody to answer it. Good search engines for questions are AskJeeves.com (http://www.aj.com) and AskJeeves for Kids (http://www.ajkids.com)

      • Narrowing your search
        Enter the broad category, and the search engine will gather all information in that category, then narrow the search by typing in more specific words in that category and by clicking on the radio button that says "Narrow your search." It will search the broad category for the information just entered. This will allow further narrowing of the topic if needed. Entering words that are unique to that subject will also help narrow your search. A good search engine for this strategy is Lycos (http://www.lycos.com).

      • Keyword searching
        Go to the search engine and type in the keyword. When multiple words are typed in, search engines generally find one word (minimum) in the document. You can use Boolean logic, using (+) between words to force the search engine to find entries with all the words listed in the document somewhere. Use of a minus sign (-) or NOT will exclude any document containing that word. The word OR will search for sites that include one word OR the other that you listed in your search. One can also use question marks at the end of the search sentence to search for sites with the exact phrases. Parentheses can be used in a similar way that they are used in mathematical equations. For example: The police NOT (Sting OR law) would give results about The Police, excluding documents about either Sting or law enforcement.

      • Meta-Search Engines
        There are also search engines that search multiple search engines, just with one keyword entry. Some popular metasearch engines are http://www.dogpile.com and http://www.37.com

    4. Students may also have favorite search engines. Brainstorm a list of search engines and record them on the board for easy student access. They could also be added onto a resource web page and posted on the school web site for easy access by all students.

      Remind students that going to a known search engine like Yahoo! (http://www.yahoo.com) and typing in the keywords "search+engines" will give students immediate links to other search engines on the Internet.

      You may also want to remind students that there are many web pages the Internet that do not carry accurate information. They should check their facts using at least two credible web resources.

    5. Hand out the scavenger hunt worksheets (questions, answers). Read through questions orally so students understand them and can look for other answers to the hunt as they proceed. Also have them write down the additional question they brainstormed after watching the videotape. Remind students that they will have another class period to hunt for the answers. Have students not only record the answer, but the site on which they found the information. You may also want to have the students keep a running log of the sites they visited and the searching techniques they used in finding their answers. Encourage students to collaborate to find the best searching techniques. Searching skills get better with practice!

    6. At the end of the lesson, you may want to not only discuss the answers, but compare different searching techniques. A class discussion could also help give some more searching strategies to fellow classmates. Your answer key has the sites where the answers for the hunt can be found. Please note that there are also other sites on the Internet that have the same information. If needed, or for elementary grade students, you could share those sites with students and have them read the pages for the given information.

    Assessment Recommendation
    You may choose to grade on how many responses were correct, how well students collaborated on the project, and how quickly and efficiently they gathered information for their searches. Having students reflect back on the activity is also a good way to find out what students learned about the Lost Liners and also about Internet searching.

    Extensions Activities
    While conducting their search, students could copy pictures from the pages they've visited and take notes on what the picture is about. After the scavenger hunt, they could put the pictures into a multimedia presentation such as PowerPoint or HyperStudio as a culmination to the activity.

    The Lost Liners video could also be used as the basis for a teacher-generated "WebQuest." A WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented activity in which some or all of the information that learners interact with comes from resources on the Internet. In most cases, the WebQuest includes links to all sites being used to accomplish the task given. You can find more information about WebQuests at: http://edweb.sdsu.edu/webquest/overview.htm.

    Online Resources


    Online Scavenger Hunts

  • Introduction

    The Blame Game

    Bigger, Faster, Stronger . . . Higher

    Titanic Artifact Activity

    Hypothermia on the High Seas

    Lost Liners Scavenger Hunt

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