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Research Quest is an exciting new program created by the Natural History Museum of Utah (NHMU) that leverages our museum's incredible research and collections with 3D and game technologies - every bit as cool as the newest smartphone apps – to support the development of the critical thinking, collaboration, and communication skills found throughout your core curriculum.

We have designed these investigations for 6th – 8th grade teachers looking for easy-to-use, cross-curriculum aligned instructional tools that support student learning and assessment in meaningful and engaging ways.

Getting started with Research Quest is easy! Create a free account in seconds to access teacher support materials, and follow these steps to get started.

Research Quest investigations align with the curriculum learning standards found across many grades with an emphasis on middle school. These investigations have been aligned with middle school standards outlined in the Next Generation Science Standards, ELA Common Core, and Utah’s SEEd standards.

Click here to see specific curriculum standard alignments for each investigation.

Throughout each Research Quest investigation, students engage in robust debate about current research as they develop theories to explain their ideas; all while having fun engaging in the essential practice necessary to hone their critical thinking, collaboration, and communication skills.

Guided by their teachers, and using online tools including 3D models and short videos with museum scientists, students work collaboratively to help answer important questions about archaeology, montane ecosystems, dinosaurs, and more.

All of our investigations have been designed to engage students in web-based research investigations, investigations rooted in the Natural History Musuem's own research. These investigations invite students to study some of the greatest mysteries our own scientists spend their careers learning about.

Research Quest is designed for you so we hope you find it to be one of the best things you've discovered in a very long time – something that supports your curriculum requirements including NGSS, Utah's SEEd Standards, and ELA standards. Some teachers have even described this program as being great preparation for student assessments.

It's easy to use! We have developed teacher-friendly instructional guides, student assessment tools, and online resources that you can start using immediately. Read through the instructional guide and get started today.

It is a blast for students! Research Quest combines the latest in 3D technology and other visual media with authentic, real-world research questions and includes many digital interactives like our simulation-based game that gives students the chance to build their own dinosaur to survive several key challenges. With important guidance from you, students work collaboratively to practice both their critical thinking and communication skills all while engaged in the deeper learning outlined in your curriculum standards.

Last, but not least, it's FREE! That's right – it cost nothing thanks to several generous NHMU partners. All you have to do is sign up!

We've worked to keep this simple – you need:

  • One internet-enabled computer or tablet per two students
  • The ability to print a Research Assistant Notebook for each student (a fancy name for the templates students use to keep track of their thinking) or use a digital Google Doc version.
  • Access to a projection system to play several short, web-based videos for your students
  • Or, you can have your student groups work at their own pace and watch the videos on their own computers. In that case, headphones may be helpful.

Note, we also have closed-captioning in English and Spanish should you want to use this feature.

Research Quest has been designed to be easy-to-use, for both teachers and students. If you would like to participate in a workshop to become more familiar with the investigations, click here for a list of upcoming workshop dates.

Research Quest is a great learning opportunity for your child to use on their own. For homeschoolers, we recommend starting with our on-demand classes. Get more information about Research Quest as a homeschool resource.

My student's have been loving the Research Quest program designed by Natural History Museum of Utah. The interactive nature of the program keeps students completely engaged in their learning. Critical thinking skills are so important for student's to learn and this program is a perfect fit for that. My student's are asking all manner of questions, they are so caught up in the "mystery" they are solving, they hardly know they are learning crucial skills for their future. The format of the quest requires the students to write a hypothesis for all of their findings, which is great practice for a science or STEM fair. I would highly encourage any teacher who has the opportunity to participate in this program to do so as soon as they can. 

Brandy Beckman, Quest Academy, 6th-8th grades, Charter

This is one of the best, if not THE BEST, most complete new resource that I have encountered in the past few years. I spend an inordinate amount of time searching online for new ideas and tools to help engage my students in science and help them to become critical thinkers and problem-solvers. Well done! 

Kamie Fultz, University School of Milwaukee, 6th grade

Thank you for doing this. I have been looking for materials that are more student centered. The new curriculum calls for it. It will help bridge from how I've been teaching and how I will be expected to teach the new SEEd standards. 

Bobbie Nielsen, Matheson Jr High, 7th grade, Granite School District

Research Quest is amazing! It brings to life a problem facing actual scientists and encourages students to use real-world skills to create and justify their opinion. Critical thinking is such a necessary skill for our students and this experience helps them to work through a problem step-by-step as they come to a conclusion. The tools are interactive, the information is easy to understand, and the resources allow for differentiation and collaboration in class. I can't wait to let my students loose with this program!

Heather Threlkeld, Legacy Prepatory Academy, 8th grade, Charter

I really love the investigations. It's a great resource for students. Thanks for all the hard work that was put into making them.

Jessica Constant, Syracuse Jr High, 7th grade, Davis School District

Research Quest was a great opportunity to implement an innovative new simulation aligned to the new Utah SEEd standards. I loved seeing how it worked online. It actually was really a great fit for my course. I'm excited to see how I can continue to improve this activity to really help my students. 

Lora Gibbons, Mountain Heights Academy Online, 7th grade, Charter

Research Quest is a great way for students to explore science standards, using critical thinking skills within a real-life situation. My students found the Research Quest investigations fascinating and fun to do. 

Deb Smith, Hillside Middle School, 7th grade, Salt Lake School District

Online Research Quest is designed so that teachers are better supported in using the amazing resources of the Natural History Museum of Utah and also experience and reflect on their own learning, developing and using a broader skill set that applies to all content areas.

Dr. Christelle Estrada, Title III Education Specialist, Utah State Board of Education

Research Quest is a great tool when it comes to helping your students think and act like scientists. It is aligned with the new Utah SEEd standards. By completing Research Quest students have the opportunity to be engaged with all the Cross-cutting Concepts. I would use it yearly in my teaching.

Jennifer MacKay, Riverview Jr High, 7th grade, Murray Schools

Research Quest provides an effective way for teachers to increase student critical thinking skills and science literacy through inquiry-based instruction. The different investigations are facilitated by a scientist and help students to use observation and research to write evidence-based arguments. Students also experience how to adjust their hypotheses to incorporate new understanding through contact with online learning resources. Research Quest is efficient at utilizing science practices to engage students in scientific communication while using authentic resources in real situations.

Melissa Mendenhall, Alpine School District, Science Specialist and Instructional Coach

The research quest activities are well worth the time! I loved how the interactives guide students through the process of identifying and evaluating evidence. The activities are exciting and engaging for students while helping students learn how to form arguments based on evidence. We loved the Research Quest investigations! They are well put together and easy to implement. I hope you create more in the future! 

Madison Kingsford, Mountain Heights Academy Online Charter, 7th grade, Charter

Overall, I was pleased to see the way several science concepts and science practices were used in these investigations. My colleague and I talked about using this as an end of unit assessment.

Karen Kraus, Delta Woods Middle School, 6th-8th grades, Blue Springs School District, Missouri

I have never used a program before that does such a great job teaching how to collect, classify and use evidence to determine an answer. This process focused students into being scientists who collect facts and then make decisions. I found the emotional or opinion or even lazier easy route was not taken as the students dug deeply to find evidence to determine what the solutions could be. The students really impressed me with their presentations! I think they impressed themselves with how smart they sounded. 

Carolyn Robertson, Snowcrest Junior High, 7th grade, Weber School District

Thanks for making a great activity for me to use. My students are crazy about it and I know that during the summer, they will still play around with it, coming up with various designs and then testing them out. I can't wait to see what else you come up with!

Felicia Bedwell, Green Acres Elementary School, 4th grade, Weber School District

Overall these were awesome investigations! My favorite was the Quarry because of the availability of evidence students could use to support their claim. I could really see my students engaging in higher level thinking. Another reason I think this was the best one is because it was the last one we did. I learned a lot from running the first two investigations. Next year will be even better!

Sharon McGarry, Syracuse Jr High, 7th grade, Davis SD

Overall, this was such a valuable resource for us this year! We absolutely loved it and look forward to using it again in the future. The students felt very motivated and Carrie is a real celebrity in our classroom. Thank you!

Megan Hurster, Weilemann School of Discovery, 6th-8th grade, Charter