SRU students invited to compete in a scavenger hunt to learn about the Constitution



Sept. 19, 2017

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Before teaching his American Government class at Slippery Rock University each year, David Kershaw starts by asking how many students have actually read the United States Constitution.

Few students raise their hands.

The results of Kershaw's informal poll match national surveys of the general population, one indicating that 28 percent of Americans admit to having read the Constitution, and another showing that fewer than a quarter of Americans could name all three branches of U.S. government.

"There's a shocking, general lack of knowledge about what's in the Constitution and what it means," said Kershaw, associate professor and chair of the political science department. "It's the foundation of our government. It lays out the bounds of what government is allowed to do and our civil liberties and civil rights."

To encourage more people to recognize the Constitution, the U.S. Congress created Constitution Day in 2004, which has been observed each Sept. 17 since then to commemorate the signing of the final version of the Constitution Sept. 17, 1787. All institutions that receive federal funds are required to offer Constitution Day educational programming, but because Sept. 17 was a Sunday this year, SRU will offer its activities Sept. 20.

"Even if it wasn't mandated by law, it's really important that we participate," Kershaw said. "People need to know about the Constitution."

Rather than conducting a panel discussion or having an invited speaker address students, Kershaw chose to challenge students in a way that will get them more engaged, or what he calls "active learning."

To that end, the SRU Political Science Department and the College of Liberal Arts will host a scavenger hunt, cosponsored by the Pi Sigma Alpha political science honor society at 8 a.m., Sept. 20. The event will begin in the Smith Student Center lobby, near Starbucks, where students will be able to pick up a pocket constitution and instructions.

Participants will be able to perform up to 30 scavenger-hunt tasks related to items in the Constitution by collecting responses or by posting them as photos and videos on social media. The non-photo/video evidence must be returned to the Spotts World Culture Building auditorium between 3-5 p.m., Sept. 20, during which there will pizza, drinks and assorted snacks available. Each correct response has a point value and the teams with the highest totals will earn prizes.

An example of a task would be to take a selfie with someone who is eligible to run for the U.S. House of Representatives and post it to social media with a designated hashtag, per the provided instructions.

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