The Case of the Missing Trunk

Updated from original Explorer Missing Trunk WebQuest to repair broken links

Introduction | Task | Process | Resources | Learning Advice | Conclusion | Teacher Page



Just this morning your parents were reading the newspaper and found the most interesting article.


Your parents have called the New York Port Authority and given them the name of your teacher. They have mailed her the trunks. Each group will be given a trunk. Your group's job is to open the trunk and look inside. Using the items in the trunk and the websites below, your challenge is to figure out which famous explorer owned the trunk. However, in order to return the trunk to the rightful owner, the Port Authority would like you to explain why it belongs to that person. To do that, you will have to give a talk about your explorer explaining:

* Name of explorer
* Date of the explorer's birth and death
* Country the explorer sailed for
* Voyage dates
* Country of intended destination and where they actually landed if it was different
* Discoveries
* Interesting facts that you want the Port Authority to know

You will use the items in the trunk to illustrate the points of your talk. For instance, if you find a newspaper from the year 1492, written in Spanish, you might assume that the trunk belongs to Christopher Columbus. To the Port Authority you might say that Christopher Columbus sailed for Queen Isabella of Spain in 1492, thus we believe this trunk belongs to him. The Port Authority also needs a luggage tag and a passport for each trunk to be returned.


1. Open your trunk and examine each of the items. Discuss them with your partners.

2. Using the Evidence Worksheet, list the items in the trunk.

3. Visit the websites below and eliminate explorers until you have found the one that you think is the owner of the trunk.

4. Make notes beside each item of evidence on the worksheet that supports your decision.

5. Practice giving your report to the Port Authority.

6. Design a luggage tag in KidPix (see example). Attach it to the trunk. The tag should include:

* Name of explorer
* Year Born - Year Died
* Country where the voyage started
* Flag

7. Give your report in front of the class. They will serve as the Port Authority's judging panel. It will be up to them to decide whether you have found the proper owner, or not.

8. Display your trunk, and Evidence Worksheet at the Explorers Extravaganza.


Use the websites below to do your investigating. You will be able to return to this homepage by clicking on the at the bottom of each of the pages.

Learning Advice:

You will be working together in a group. Each person should share in the work. Take turns writing and driving the mouse. You will need to divide up the items in the trunk when you give your report. Each person should do some of the talking. Do not eliminate an explorer just because one item does not match. Take your time making choices.


The Port Authority is very grateful for your help. You have been invited to the Explorers Extravaganza. There will VIPs in attendance and light snacks to celebrate your success. You will get a chance to view the trunks and evidence of the other groups.

Created by Brooks Widmaier, December 29, 2001, Explorer Missing Trunk WebQuest
Updated by Kathleen Martell January 2009