On most days in Washington D.C., if you ride on Metrorail, Metrobus, or DC Circulator, you’ll find yourself surrounded by fellow commuters with their faces intently reading the newspaper, a best-selling novel, texting, or playing games on their mobile device.
What you probably wouldn’t expect to see on public transit is nearly 200 college freshmen laughing and posing for pictures in front of Metro stations and Metrobus stop signs or riding Capital Bikeshare together.
But on August 26th, that’s exactly what happened.
American University partnered with goDCgo, an initiative of the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), to create “The Great American Scavenger Hunt.” It was the first partnership of its kind and the goals were simple: show new incoming students all that the District has to offer and how to use public transportation to get there.
In the spirit of collaboration, numerous D.C. restaurants, museums, music venues, sports teams, and retail shops generously provided in-kind donations for student prizes, which helped to entice nearly 200 AU freshman students to register for a special new orientation. Armed with only their smart phones, transit maps and information, SmarTrip cards, and a laundry list of points of interest to find and silly activities to accomplish, students participated in a scavenger hunt that started on campus and led them all around the four quadrants of the city.
As students traversed the city by public transit, they were tasked to post pictures and videos to the game’s Instagram account as they ate hot dogs, recited the Gettysburg Address, sang like John Denver, danced like N’Sync, roared like lions at the National Zoo, and explored the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History – all while searching for DC Circulator stops, Metro station signs, and Capital Bikeshare stations.
Bonus points if they met a member of the Obama Administration along the way.