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  • Writer's pictureDylan Bruce

Puzzling Play puts participants through their paces

Escape rooms put their participants to the test with intricate puzzles and challenging tasks, but the creation of these rooms is a rewarding challenge in itself. Our latest program, Puzzling Play, gives students the opportunity to design their own escape rooms from start to finish, with a theme of ‘Waste’.

Mount Waverley Secondary College, Glen Waverley Secondary College, South Oakleigh College, and Highvale Secondary College all sent teams of six students to participate in the three-day program.

Students began the program with a trip to escapeXpereince in Oakleigh, where they were able to experience an escape room for themselves. Whether travelling through time or solving a burlesque murder mystery, the students gained a great understanding on what makes for a great escape room, and a Q&A session afterwards with escapeXperience owners Jackie and Mark was a brilliant opportunity to learn about the creation of the rooms they just went through.

Returning to Monash Tech School, the expert knowledge continued to flow with a masterclass from Josh Hunt, Escape Room Manager at Strike Bowling. He gave students some brilliant insight into how to make an enjoyable escape room, and some of the puzzle types and technologies that students could incorporate.

After this, students were eager to begin designing and prototyping puzzles of their own. From geography quizzes to weight-based challenges, the students’ imaginations roamed free in creating intricate, but still solvable, puzzles.

With their puzzle creation underway, the students steadily incorporated the other key aspects of escape room design, such as story, theme and flow. Working across school groups, the students collaborated to build their escape room and pull all of their ideas into a cohesive experience. At the end of it, they had created a multi-stage escape room set in an apocalyptic, waste-filled world, with Virtual Reality puzzles and plentiful locks. The students embraced the theme of waste, bringing in recycled bottles, boxes, and other resources to create their puzzles.

The true test for an escape room is the testing phase, and the students’ room was put through its paces when it came time for the teachers to test it. Watching via camera in another room, the students observed as their teachers traversed through the students' clues and conundrums, and eventually escaped.

This was the first time we ran Puzzling Play, and we are buoyed by the positive feedback we received from students and teachers. We hope to run this again in future, and look forward to seeing more amazing escape room designs!

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