The University of Chicago’s annual Scavenger Hunt (or “Scav”) is one of the most storied college traditions in America. Every year, teams of hundreds of competitors scramble over four days to complete roughly 350 challenges. The tasks range from moments of silliness to 1,000-mile road trips, and they call on participants to fully embrace the absurd. For students it is a rite of passage, and for the surrounding community it is a chance to glimpse the lighter side of a notoriously serious university.
We Made Uranium! shares the stories behind Scav, told by participants and judges from the hunt’s more than thirty-year history. The twenty-three essays range from the shockingly successful (a genuine, if minuscule, nuclear reaction created in a dorm room) to the endearing failures (it’s hard to build a carwash for a train), and all the chicken hypnotisms and permanent tattoos in between. Taken together, they show how a scavenger hunt once meant for blowing off steam before finals has grown into one of the most outrageous annual traditions at any university. The tales told here are absurd, uplifting, hilarious, and thought-provoking—and they are all one hundred percent true.