Brain Chase is an interactive online global treasure hunt. The program began in 2014 as the brain child of Heather and Allan Staker of Austin, Texas. Heather, an educator, was looking for an engaging online education program for her children, but could not find one that tested a broad range of skills. So she developed her own. Allan added the treasure hunting element, combining the educational goals of the program with something to keep kids engaged. After all, who doesn’t love a good treasure hunt? The hunt begins when Brain Chase posts a series of clues on their website. Participants watch videos, get clues, decode messages, conduct research, and then try to find the grand prize, the Globe of Magellan, somewhere in the world. The program takes about one hour per day over the course of about five weeks. The first person to find the correct location is the winner. Since the program began, the search for the Globe of Magellan has led previous participants, generally 2nd through 8th graders, to Llivia, Spain and Fuji City, Japan. This spring’s Brain Chase led 9 year old Briggs Dommert and the other six members of his family to Folsom, Louisiana. And even more specifically to the meadow of DGA’s own Doug Green.
|The Dommert Family after digging up the Globe of Magellan|
|The Dommerts working together around the computer|
The Dommerts arrived in Folsom just after 8 A.M. last Friday morning. Briggs led the family out to the meadow where they found a mound. Briggs and his sister Ella grabbed a pair of shovels and started digging. They soon found a wooden crate containing the Globe of Magellan and a key for a safe deposit box containing $20,000 in scholarship money. The Brain Chase was a family affair involving Briggs, his parents Travis and Lisa, and siblings Ella, Sophia, Kylie, and Levi. But it was Briggs who figured out that the Globe was hidden in Folsom. A local television crew from WDSU filmed the excavation and interviewed the family. The Dommert family, who live in Georgia, spent the day before in New Orleans. They visited the city’s famous landmarks, experienced the local culture, and tasted New Orleans’ famous food.
|Doug being interviewed by WDSU|
Doug and Mary were excited to participate in the Brain Chase and host the Dommerts and the television crew. Last fall, Allan Staker decided that he wanted to have the spring Brain Chase end somewhere in the New Orleans area. After meeting through mutual friends, Doug described his meadow restoration project—which seeks to restore part of Doug and Mary’s property with natural forest and grassland (see more here)—and Allan, in Doug’s words, “fell in love with the idea immediately.” In early March, Allan came to Folsom to bury the treasure. After some consultation, Allan buried it along the walking path in the meadow. Originally Alan wanted to bury the Globe in the “weedy” part of the meadow before Doug explained that the “weedy” part was the meadow. The treasure sat underground for about two months before the Dommerts arrived to claim their prize.
Doug and Mary enjoyed participating in such an educational project and were delighted to host a family as charming as the Dommerts. The experience also gave Doug an opportunity to share the importance of his meadow restoration project with others.