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Discover your own pathway!

Quest Trail Guide

Need help organizing your ideas? Download this Quest Trail Guide to help you along the way.

Quest Rubric

Use this Quest Rubric to keep track of your progress.


Quest Help


Do you have questions about the Quest? Use this information to guide you.

What Is a Quest?

The goal of the Quest is to investigate the people, places, events, and ideas that have made Iowa what it is today. You are in control as you explore many different topics and make meaningful connections. Then you turn your pathway into your own story of Iowa.

The four parts of a Quest:

  1. Browse the site. Looking around the site when you first start helps you understand how the site is organized and what is on the site. It's good to get familiar with the site from the beginning so that you know how to find good information later.
  2. Choose a topic. Choosing a topic can be fun and frustrating at the same time. When you are exploring topics that you might choose to investigate, remember that if it doesn't work out, you can change your mind and change your topic!
  3. Make connections. Research your topic. Ask questions. Write down what relates to your topic. Answer your research questions. This part might take some time so be patient and dig deep.
  4. Tell your story. This is the part of the Quest that makes it your own. When you look over the information you've found, you'll see many things that relate to your topic. All you do now is explain how the information relates to your topic and why it's important. When you are finished, you have your own Iowa Pathway!

How to Choose a Topic

Choosing a good topic for an Iowa Pathways Quest will set the stage for the entire Quest. A good topic should be interesting and researchable.

5 steps of choosing a topic:

  1. Scan the Iowa Pathways Web site to see what interests you. Click through several pages and look at big ideas and small details.
  2. Make a short list of these items. Your topic could be
    • an important event or era
    • an important decision
    • changes over time
    • an event that happened by chance that affected history
    • an important person
    • a controversial issue
    • common theme or idea
  3. Consider the following questions when choosing a topic for a Quest.
    • What would I like to learn more about? Is this a topic I would enjoy spending time researching?
    • What do I already know? What do I need or want to know?
    • Is this a topic that I can investigate? Where can I find resources and information that relate to this topic?
    • Is this topic interesting to others? Can I think of how to help others be as interested in this topic as I am?
    • Is the topic important?
  4. Rank them first, second, third… in the order of most to least interesting.
  5. What is your top choice? You are ready to start investigating!

Using the Quest Trail Guide

The Quest Trail Guide can help you on your journey as you discover your own story of Iowa. The Trail Guide is an organizer for your activities, research, and conclusions. It is a place to keep track of your thoughts, record important information, and pull ideas together.

The four parts of the Quest Trail Guide:

  1. Browse the Site
    This section helps you track your progress as you learn how to use the site.
  2. Choose a Topic
    This section helps you narrow your topic choices to the one that you will research. It also helps you focus on specific questions about your topic that you want to answer as you research.
  3. Make Connections
    This is the place for you to record the information you find that relates to your research questions. This section is the place to put the who, what, when, where, why, and how of your topic.
  4. Tell Your Story
    This is the creative place where you describe how your research relates to your topic and why your topic is important. In this last part, you pull all your ideas together to make a unique story of your topic. Write about how all your ideas are related to your topic and how they are related to each other. The last thing you do is to decide why this topic is important to Iowa and how your research supports your conclusion.

What Is a Pathway?

A Pathway is a series of meaningful connections. You start with a topic that interests you, then choose a related topic. After you have made a few choices, the topics you have selected all have one thing in common – your Iowa pathway. This site challenges you to make your own connections among Iowa people, places, events, and ideas.

What does this mean?
When you research a topic with Iowa Pathways there are many possible directions to go. The articles you read, the artifacts you find, and the Side Trails you explore are related to your topic in some way.

A pathway is a series of meaningful choices.

  • Think about your choices and what you would choose to explore.
  • Choose an artifact, a Side Trail, or article related to your topic.
  • Decide what is important or valuable.
  • Record what is important and how it is related.
  • Does your choice lead to something such as an answer to a question or another question to answer?
  • Make another selection to continue your pathway.

Finding My Own Pathway

The goal of the Quest is to find your own path through Iowa history. You are in control as you explore many different topics and make meaningful connections. Your story is your Iowa pathway!

5 Steps to finding your own pathway and putting it all together:

  1. As you explore your topic and find valuable information, you are making connections to your topic. These connections are pathways (see What Is a Pathway for more information). Keep track of the connections you make and how these connections relate to your topic.
  2. Review the different topics you explored. Where did you begin? Where did you finish? How did you get from beginning to end? How were the topics related?
  3. Your list of connections has now become a story with a beginning and ending. This is your own Pathway. Your pathway may show how things changed over time or the importance of an event or era. It may be about the importance of a decision or an event that happened by chance that affected history. It could be about how an important person influenced history or how a controversial issue is important to Iowa.
  4. What is the story of your pathway? What did you learn? What are your thoughts about your discoveries? What is your conclusion? Why is your story important?
  5. What do you want people to know, feel, and think about your topic?

You now have your own Iowa Pathway! It is your own story. You found it. You created it. You have told it.