GIS Concepts For School Children. Creating A Scavenger Hunt For Children With ArcGIS Collector And Survey123

Academic Paper, 2019

24 Pages, Grade: 1




1. Introduction

2. Project idea, content and scope

3. Methodological approach
a. Workflow and SDI-Approach
b. Comparison of ArcGIS Collector and Survey123
c. Prepare acquisition of tracks with ArcGIS Collector
d. Decision between Web and Connect version of Survey123

4. Generation of tasks in Survey123

5. Integration and presentation of the results

6. Dissemination and pedagogical approach

7. Testing of the scavenger hunt

8. Problems, challenges and solution management
a. Limitations in the functionality of the Software
b. Problems with Integration of Surveys to the geoportal and transferability
c. Unlocking Web version of Survey123 for geoportal

8. Conclusion


Table of figures

Figure 1 Scavenger Hunt SDI approach depicted in a workflow

Figure 2 Comparison from Collection to Publication (Source: Alschner 2016)

Figure 3 Tracks on ArcGIS Server Manager

Figure 4 Predefined elements of the web version

Figure 5 Survey Layout and Submission screen

Figure 6 Dashboard of Results

Figure 7 Pedagogical approach and lessons learned

Figure 8 3d Model of Castle Tandalier as giveaways for the classes. Realisation and photo credits: Peter Jeremias

Figure 9 Streaming of tracks in ArcGIS Collector

Figure 10 Vizualisation of collected point data in ArcGIS Online

Figure 11 Comlete Test Walk for the scavenger hunt

Figure 12 Mobile Phone settings of an Android phone to set accurracy of positioning

Figure 13 Messed up layout

Figure 14 Excel structure with two extra images

Figure 15 Unlocking Survey123 Web for geoportals


A scavenger hunt can be a ludic and active approach to address pupils and transport educational and subject content. Thus, the scavenger hunt we designed aims to familiarize pupils of the age class 10-12 years with GIS and the possibilities GIS offer in a playful manner. It includes 5 stations which are addressed by following an instruction-sheet with QR-codes leading to the respective places and posing questions and tasks.

For the scavenger hunt there are two datasets that have to be handled: The tasks for each station including the submitted answers and the tracks of the groups. The Results and the tracks should also be made available to the Z_GIS geoportal following the guidelines of open standards and interoperability. To fulfil these requirements a combination of two ESRI software products was used: ArcGIS Collector and Survey123. The tracks can be accessed as web feature service via REST URL whereas the survey answers are directly integrated into a dashboard with a map. So, the results are immediately updated and available in ArcGIS Online for inspection, comparison and discussion.

1. Introduction

The initial task in the lecture SDI Services Implementation was to develop an own project including an SDI-strategy and standardized geoservices for the area of Radstadt. The created services shall be prepared appropriately to communicate to school children what GIS is and are feasible to be done at the GIS-day in May 2019.

The scavenger hunt we created for this event aims to provide a playful introduction to GIS-content for pupils. Therefore, we also encourage pupils to actually use “real” GIS-software. As they are about 10-12 years old, we decided to reduce complexity of the software as much as possible and adding an appealing, child-oriented storyline while still having a serious GIS-environment to conduct the scavenger hunt.

Some words about the Software used:

We decided on a mixture of two ESRI-apps as basis for the scavenger hunt: ArcGIS Collector for taking the tracks of pupils walking and Survey123 for fulfilling tasks and submitting answers. Each app has a clear function within our project and can be applied simultaneously, as ArcGISCollector will work in the background.

2. Project idea, content and scope

To offer a project appropriate to the age of school kids between 10-12 years, a kind of scavenger hunt was developed to communicate what GIS is and can do. The scavenger hunt is designed to take place in small groups of 3-5 kids, which are equipped with tablets and an instruction-sheet.

As one presentation-session is intended to take about 45 minutes, the scavenger hunt is designed to take place on the school compound of Castle Tandalier. Thus, long distances to walk can be avoided as well as for liability reasons.

A scavenger hunt provides the possibility to transport information and aims of GIS while at the same time it is a ludic approach to introduce to GIS: As own action and physical activity is required, the project is well suited to be performed between more theoretical items on the agenda of the GIS-day. The ludic approach is underpinned by the introduction of the ghost GISO, who leads through the tasks in order to have a red thread and storyline for the scavenger hunt. It was our concern to offer an approach which is perceived as fun, but at the same time transports serious messages, such as the usage of different technologies to display fields of GIS. Tasks and questions at different stops are designed easy to handle but vary in data types obtained by the school children to have diversity in the results that are to be discussed in short after the practical scavenger hunt. The scavenger hunt tasks are based on ArcGIS software to display the results and collect data deriving from the tasks: Once activated, the ArcGIS Collector application collects the tracks while the kids are doing the scavenger hunt tasks, which are provided as Survey123-forms, accessible via QR-codes provided on the instruction-sheet. The collected tracks and data from the tasks are directly integrated and displayed in an ArcGIS Online WebApp as visual basis for discussion.

3. Methodological approach

a. Workflow and SDI-Approach

For the scavenger hunt there are two datasets that have to be handled: One the one hand the tasks for each station including the submitted answers and on the other hand the tracks of the groups walking from task to task. The used software should be easily compatible with the geoportal of ZGIS which is an ESRI portal that is locally maintained by the University of Salzburg. The tracks as well as the tasks and their results should finally be stored at the geoportal to be open accessible within the organization in order to ensure the reusability and adaption for other school groups than the school of Castle Tandalier in Radstadt.

Since the tracks and the tasks impose different requirements to the software, we decided to use two different types of Applications for data acquisition within the ESRI universe: ArcGIS Collector for the tracks and Survey123 for the stations. The next chapters deal with these two apps in more detailed way. The idea is to run both apps at the same time, the Survey123 app as main interface for the scavenger hunt in the foreground and the collector app recording the tracks in the background. The tracks should be stored as feature service in the ArcGIS Server of the geoportal and be public available as Web feature Service. They are accessed via Rest URL into the Web map with the results as hosted feature layer. The Survey123 task results cannot be published as web feature service because they are directly loaded into automatically created folders in ArcGIS Online. Finally, the feature layer can be loaded into a web map application or a dashboard to bring both outcomes together and present it nicely. Figure 1 summarizes the approach that was used in this case.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure 1 Scavenger Hunt SDI approach depicted in a workflow (source: own illustration)

b. Comparison of ArcGIS Collector and Survey123

ArcGIS Collector and Survey123 were both used for this project due to the fact that they have some strengths and weaknesses that make each of them better for a certain purpose. Used together they can compensate the drawbacks of the other app and were in our case a useful to fulfil the requirements of this project. However, they also have some things that they have in common:

- Collector and Survey123 are both applications for mobile data collection
- They are ESRI products which makes them easier to use together with other ESRI software
- An ArcGIS online Account or Portal is needed to store/view the results
- Data collection is also possible offline, the data is uploaded later when connection to the internet is established again
- Editor tracking is possible
- Both apps allow to add photos
- Both allow capturing of new data as well as editing of existing data

The most obvious difference between the Apps that initially catches one’s eyes is the layout of the data acquisition: While ArcGIS Collector is map centric, the Survey123 App offers a form centric interface. That means in Collector you always see your input/tracks situated on a map and you even need a ready web map in ArcGIS Online to start with data collection. In Survey123 you start with styling and designing the form of the surveys and tasks, the acquisition is also done within this layout and only afterwards you can look at your georeferenced results on a map. Survey123 only displays the results as survey points whereas with collector one is able to acquire also line features and polygon features. For ArcGIS Collector you need an ArcGIS account to collect data, in Survey123 there is at least the possibility to take part of a survey anonymously in the web version of Survey123.

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Figure 2 Comparison from Collection to Publication (Source: Alschner 2016)

The big advantage of Survey123 is to customize your layout of the surveys, allows skipping questions, determining required questions, applying expressions and rules and labelling of the questions in different languages. As described in the previous chapter they are also different in dealing with the collected data (Figure 2). ArcGIS Collector is more open and flexible to the storage and access to the data on a Geo Server. The App even allows a two-way communication and updating of the data.1

To sum up, Survey123 was the first choice for the tasks that are given to the pupils since the interface is highly customizable. It allows a variety of survey question forms like multiple choice, photo input or setting of a marker on a map. ArcGIS collector offers the possibility to map the tracks as line features and is better in publishing the data.

c. Prepare acquisition of tracks with ArcGIS Collector

Before you can start with collecting data with the ArcGIS Collector you first have to make a feature layer where the data is inserted and a web map that displays the feature layer. For this project we wanted to make the feature layer public available according to open geo standards. To accomplish these requirements, a PostgreSQL connection was established with the ZGIS database within ArcCatalog. The next step involves the creation of a new feature layer, in this case a line feature as the tracks should be displayed as lines. Additionally, a field for the group name of the children was added to make sure that we can differentiate their tracks afterwards. ArcGIS Collector should ask for the group name before starting with acquisition. The feature layer which is now empty is then published to the ArcGIS Server as Feature Service. Here you can define that it should be available as feature service and it is also possible to enter metadata. By logging in into the ArcGIS Server of ZGIS the REST URL can be retrieved to access the data as web feature service. The feature layer was then added to ArcGIS Online and also into the final web app as hosted feature layer. By logging in with the same account in ArcGIS Collector it should be available as target for inputting tracks.

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Figure 3 Tracks on ArcGIS Server Manager (source: ArcGIS Server Manager, © ESRI)

d. Decision between Web and Connect version of Survey123

ESRI actually provides two versions of Survey123 to work with:

- There is the web version with predefined question types of which a survey can be composed of. The creation of the survey as well as the editing, storing and sharing is all done in a Web Browser combined with an ArcGIS Account.
- Survey123 Connect is the locally stored counterpart of the Survey123 web version, which is based on Excel Sheets. Survey123 Connect goes hand in hand with the mobile Survey123 application download and fill out surveys from Connect but also from the web version. Survey123 Connect offers the possibility to prepare more advanced question types than the given ones in the web version and it also allows to apply complex rules and more depth in customization.

For the scavenger hunt we went with the web version for several reasons: The web version is the more intuitive, user-friendly one and does not require much foreknowledge in comparison.

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Figure 4 Predefined elements of the web version (source: Survey123 © ESRI)

Furthermore, the provided elements offer a big variety and were more than sufficient for our purpose (Figure 4).

The default interface of the web version is also more adapted to the usage with mobile phones and tablet which are our target devices. The web version allows also to preview the survey for tablets, mobile phones and computers and therefore it is easier to adapt the layout.

There are even some things that are only possible in the web version: For instance, generating QR codes directly, which we definitely wanted to use for opening the tasks, as according our experience the QR-codes run more stable than providing URLs. Another issue is that you can open the surveys within a web browser in contrast to the connect version where you need an ArcGIS Account and the mobile app to fill out the questions. This is a major advantage because no installation of the app is needed, and pupils could even open the app on their private mobile phones. One is also able to design an own “Thank you for your submission” screen which is also a nice extra that is only provided in the web version. Finally, editing in Connect has to be done in the Excel sheet and then be applied to the survey to see them whereas in the web version the changes can be viewed directly and interactively in the editor tab.

4. Generation of tasks in Survey123

The generation of the survey involved the finding of suitable tasks that can be achieved within the grounds of the school at Castle Tandalier and within a certain amount of time. We tried to use a variety of the predefined elements to keep the tasks interesting. There are five tasks: one for each cardinal direction and one task in the centre at the castle. Each task has a unique colour to be easily recognizable (e.g. North → blue).

The structure of the surveys is pretty much the same as shown in figure 5: Header with the unique colour and the name of the survey followed by a task description by the ghost in German. Each survey also has an image that illustrates the task and is also used as thumbnail of the survey.

The next element to insert is the name of the group. This is necessary as there are survey points from five tasks and up to five groups, otherwise it would be impossible to distinguish them in the final web map. The field properties are therefore set to required. The following tasks were formulated:

- North: Starting and end time of a walk with 200 steps
- East: Putting marker on a ping pong table on an orthophoto of the area around the castle
- South: Identify mountain tops in sight distance according to the weather
- West: Estimating the size of a tennis court
- Castle: Take a photo of an object that is older than 50 years

The initial submit button was further modified to a German version. After the data is sent a customized “Thank you screen” (figure 5) appears on the screen. After the generation and publication of a survey, Survey123 automatically creates a folder for the survey results and a feature layer in ArcGIS online. The web version provides multiple options of sharing the surveys: as Link that opens either the survey in the mobile app or in the web browser, as QR code or embedded in a website. In our case we chose the QR Codes which were designed with the QR Code Generator ( in the according colour.


1 Alschner,S. (2016): Test: Survey123 and Collector for ArcGIS. Retrieved from: Accessed: 10.02.2019

Excerpt out of 24 pages


GIS Concepts For School Children. Creating A Scavenger Hunt For Children With ArcGIS Collector And Survey123
University of Salzburg  (ZGIS)
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
GIS, GIS knowledge, GPS, ArcGIS, children
Quote paper
Philipp Straßer (Author)Eva Missoni (Author), 2019, GIS Concepts For School Children. Creating A Scavenger Hunt For Children With ArcGIS Collector And Survey123, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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