Rhode Island College to Hold Constitution Scavenger Hunt

Photo courtesy of the National Constitution Center.

Photo courtesy of the National Constitution Center.


Did you know Americans wanted an income tax so much that they ratified the Sixteenth Amendment to insure its continuance?

If so, you could have a shot at winning the Rhode Island College Constitution Day scavenger hunt coming up this month.

“Knowledge of institutions is critical for people to be citizens rather than subjects of this country,” said Thomas Schmeling, associate professor and chair of the Department of Political Science. “The government belongs to us, and we can only take ownership if we understand the laws.”

Constitution Day is a federal observance that recognizes the adoption of the United States Constitution on Sept. 17; the day the U.S. Constitutional Convention signed the Constitution in 1787.

A law established the observance in 2004. The law requires, through the U.S. Department of Education, that any educational institution that receives federal funds provide programming of the history of the U.S. Constitution on the holiday.

Rhode Island College has previously conducted scavenger hunts to mark the occasion. Schmeling also once dressed a theatre professor in a President James Madison costume to walk around campus and video interview students on their constitutional knowledge.

“Sadly, our culture does not value teaching the Constitution; our education on it is not up to snuff,” Schmeling said. “The scavenger hunt is an opportunity to get students acquainted with the Constitution, to dig into what’s in there, and to win fabulous prizes.”

RIC students may pick up a scavenger hunt question list in the political science office beginning on Monday, Sept. 16 and must turn a completed sheet back in by 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 20. The 10 students with the highest scores will each win a $20 gift certificate to the RIC campus store. If there are more than 10 winners who tie for first place, winners will be randomly selected from that group.

Students will be given a pocket Constitution to keep and are allowed to use whatever resources available to answer the questions, but must conduct the scavenger hunt alone.

“Some questions are easy and some are going to require some digging,” Schmeling said. “I designed the scavenger hunt so students have to learn something to complete it.”