Court Quest

From Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics and iCivics

This resource is an interactive game in which players determine which branch of the courts system litigants should take their cases to. The resource makes a game out of something that would not normally be considered a game — deciding what court citizens with different cases should go to.   

Within the game, students can click around the various regions/states to learn more about the federal and state courts.  Students can click on a topic and it pops up with additional facts.  

There are so many topics within so many circuits that it would be difficult for a casual user of the site to memorize all the information it provides just by using this resource.

How do you use it?

This resource is an engaging way for a high school audience to understand the Federal Court system.  Court Quest could be used either as the introductory assignment in advance of a judge coming to give a presentation or in advance of a classroom visit to a courtroom.  Alternatively it could be used during a presentation to help break up a "lecture" on the same material or to reinforce information presented. 

The two main ways to play the game, timed and "casual," allow users to tailor their use of the resource to their own needs and understanding.

The Annenberg Classroom website is a multimedia environment that gathers together videos, lesson plans, current news and interactive games.  As the site says:  "This website connects our award-winning, comprehensive curriculum on the Constitution and its amendments to daily civics news and student discussion. And when we say "connects," we really mean it. Twice daily, our nonpartisan writers sift through national and local news and select current events expressly for social studies classrooms. And twice weekly, they write an article on a portion of this news with links to our multimedia curriculum. You can use these articles—we call them “Speak Outs”—in your class or right here online. When your students “Speak Out” at, they participate in a moderated, national dialogue of their peers.  We publish up to 10 news stories a day, many media resources each year, and at least two Speak Outs each week during the school year."

Other Resources on the Annenberg Classroom Site:
Because of the range of resources on the site, judges and other presenters might find it valuable to browse deeper into the site to determine if there are other resources of value for a particular presentation.  There is special depth of curricular materials relating to the Constitution and the Courts.  For example, a set of five videos on the separation of powers among the three branches of government and the system of checks and balances can be found here.  A second online game titled Branches of Power, found here, "immerses students in the workings of our three branches of government. Players take on the roles of legislator, president and Supreme Court justice to get constitutional laws enacted. Players juggle several bills at once while holding press conferences and town hall meetings."  Links to organizations interested in the courts can be found here.

The homepage of the site can be found here.  All the interactive games on the site are gathered here.

Judges who find the interactive game appealing will want to play it themselves beforehand and determine how best to use it in a presentation; there is no teacher's guide along with it. 

Who is the audience?

Despite the informality of Court Quest's animation, the information in the game is in depth, so the intended audience is older than a first glance might suggest.  

The focus and specificity of Court Quest make it especially appropriate for high school and older students, albeit the material and style of presentation is sufficiently engaging that younger students could use the site and the resources with some direction.

What other resources will complement this?

  1. Appellate Courts: Let's Take It Up  Lesson Plan from iCivics (P, M, H) 
  2. Courts in the Classroom  Videos from the Judicial Council of California and the Administrative Office (P, M H)
  3. Federal Courts & What They Do  Document from the Federal Judicial Center (H, A)
  4. Interactive Diagram of the Federal Court System — Interactive document from Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics (M, H, A)
  5. Oyez Baseball  Game from Justia and the Oyez Project (M, H, A)
  6. Supreme Decision  Game from iCivics (M, H) 
  7. What the Federal Courts Do  Website/slideshow from the Federal Judicial Center (M, H, A)
And on Bankruptcy:
  1. What is a Bankruptcy Case?
  2. How Bankruptcy Cases Move through Federal Courts 
  3. How Bankruptcy Cases Move Through Federal Courts — Quiz #6

Additional Recommended Resources Off-Site Links
  1. A Constitutional Timeline
    • Multi-aged audience timeline that highlights key dates in history of Constitution, with links to text, audio and video clips. From National Constitution Center's Constitution Day site. 
  2. Interactive Constitution
    • Multi-aged audience site that enables users to search Constitution by keyword or topic, with access to explanatory materials throughout. From National Constitution Center.   
  3. The Annenberg Guide to the United States Constitution
    • Multi-aged audience site that lists the text of each section of every article in the Constitution, and provides explanation of what the text means in plain language.  From the Leonore Annenberg Institute of Civics. 
  4. Understanding the Federal Courts
    • Multi-aged online textbook-type document that includes sections on Article III, the Federal Court system and the geographical boundaries of the Courts of Appeal and the District Courts, the code of conduct for judges, juror qualifications, exemptions and terms of service, as well as categories of bankruptcy cases.  From the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts.