Gosh, I like all your ideas for use of a wiki in school - for compiling lists of inventors and/or explorers, and a place for each member to write their findings for a collaborative report. Each person's contribution to a group effort on one topic can be accessed and discussed. I'm trying to think how a wiki could link Word documents from individual participant's home computer.
Later: you can link a Word file created on your computer by putting it in the wiki's file archives, then linking it to the page. It becomes a downloadable file.