A spoon of…Escape game in educational context . Episode 1 : From idea to implementation, trainer testimony

Welcome everyone to this series of articles dedicated to the theme of escape games in the context of science education and training. An interactive, fun and innovative tool, but what are the real issues and the constraints. discover our analysis and testimonials here.

But first : What is an escape game?

An escape game is a puzzle game played in teams. The players generally play in an enclosed and themed area. They have to solve a series of puzzles in a given time to succeed in escaping or completing a mission. Escape games can also be played online these days, making it a powerful tool in times of health crisis. It can be used in a recreational, private, professional, educational or training context. Several colleagues in the network of houses for science have experimented with the creation of these games for science teacher training, as well as for pupils and students.

In France, Jean-Charles Moutou (technology teacher in college), Virginie Laurent-Gydé (teacher-researcher in neurobiology) and Stéphanie Baderot (elementary school teacher) have collaborated together to create an escape game for training. We asked them about the process : 

 

Hello, I’m Jean-Charles Moutou, professor of technology at the college, and associate trainer at MPLS Alsace for almost 4 years.
Because technology is closely linked to science, it benefits from advances in research and, in return, scientific disciplines rely on technical advances. And vice versa. These links need to be woven constantly, which I do by proposing concrete solutions to situations

 

You have created an escape game for a House of Science/Maison pour la science en Alsace (MSA in the text) training course. Can you present it to us in a few words?

The idea initially came from a former colleague, Tierno Sissoko, a  primary school trainer at MSA, on the theme of Jules Verne; indeed, at the time we had the ambition to do things in an interdisciplinary way by proposing an action for both science and literature teachers. On the other hand, the director of the MSA had suggested that I do something on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci, as a modest follow-up to the Parisian exhibition that had taken place at the Louvre (https://www.louvre.fr/expositions/leonard-de-vinci). So I immersed myself in the theme and was literally overwhelmed by the immensity of the task. Leonardo da Vinci really touched everything! And to present something you either have to present it from a very precise angle or fly over it. The middle way for me with the escape was both to fly over and at the same time to focus a posteriori or a priori on the details of his career and his work.

What were the main stages in the creation of this escape game?

I knew I wanted to make an escape game, the first lockdown allowed me to think about it because it takes time. I had already experimented the escape game in real life in escapades rooms for personal use, then I was offered an escape game like a board game, so I saw that it was playable.
So I had created something for my students on the theme of Jules Verne that was cancelled because of the health crisis, which I then recycled with Leonardo da Vinci for the MSA.
First of all you need a scenario, then you need a lot of prior documentation, after which I asked my colleague Stéphanie Baderot (associate teacher 1st degree at the MSA) to join me, because I know that school teachers are very keen on this kind of teaching material. Also, our colleague Virginie Laurent Gydé joined us in the development of the game. We then brainstormed and worked in trinomial to invent enigmas.

And what are the technical constraints when you want to make an escape game in an educational setting?

The real difficulty is to make a whole class work, because normally, an escape game is made for a maximum of 6 participants, but with one class we are talking about 24-30 students! So we have to find ways to coordinate the mechanics in groups and separate the research to then mutualize so that there are exchanges. We had planned to voluntarily work on something phantasmagorical, not at all “scientific” with the pretext of searching for the philosopher’s stone. It was also an opportunity to talk about the history of science and technology, about what chemistry was like during the Renaissance, but also a little geology, decoding, mechanics, etc.

Each used his specific skill, Virginie who works on blue light in her laboratory was able to integrate some knowledge on this theme, I worked on the design of boxes, small mechanisms, accessories and decorations, and Stéphanie on geology. The most difficult thing is to find a story that makes sense, the riddles after often come all by themselves!

It’s tricky I imagine to find a good balance, so that it’s neither too easy nor too complex?

It is necessary to juggle between the obvious (not so easy) and the complex, and it is also necessary to keep the pleasure of the research and the satisfaction of finding because we created this escape game for adults certainly in a training context, but keeping in mind that it could be transposable with students.
It is also important to give at the end of the game a state of the art and to untangle the true from the false of course.
You can use the escape game as a starting point for teaching, because it is extremely eye-catching for the students, and it can also be done at the end of the course to apply their knowledge.

In terms of implementation, is it possible to make an escape game with simple or cheap material ?

The material is not really a problem, but it takes a lot of time, I would also say that thinking about the development of an escape game with two or three people is ideal, especially if we get along well, but beyond that it requires the establishment of a real project team.
After that, it can be done with very simple things, like cardboard boxes, the decor helps, but you can make an escape game in a normal room, for me it’s still “magic” to succeed in taking the participants to another world from a space they are familiar with.

Do you think we can also live the escape game experience through online tools easily?

That’s something I’m exploring right now! For example, Genially seems to be a powerful tool that allows simple transposition, even if there are things that will never be transposable. Genially looks really easy to use, after all I think there’s nothing stopping you from making an online escape game with a simple powerpoint.
There are also virtual locks, things that allow you to hide clues in images and so on. I always try to think like an engineer: there is a constraint, we will try to work around it and find solutions!

What do you recommend to get into escape games?

S-scape, the dedicated site https://scape.enepe.fr: very rich in resources (in French) , but to discover, the easiest way is to buy a board game type box in a store and play it with your family to really understand how it works. There are all the prices. And of course to make a real one when it will be possible again. The difference with classic board games is that you’re dealing with one of the different forms of intelligence, and sometimes it’s very surprising, like an enigma with a maze on a sheet of paper that you have to pierce to find the way out, or puzzles that seem impossible, hence the importance of being in a team for these games!


Stéphanie Baderot, teacher and trainer at the elementary school level who worked with Jean-Charles on this project testifies :

” The educational escape games are very playful and very inclusive. You can adapt to the level of the students, choose different entries that allow them to participate more easily, you can also play on groups of students with different backgrounds, different levels or choose to make heterogeneous groups, it’s flexible.
This format is very interesting because the students do research and learn things without realizing it, and the fact of giving a stake, a precise objective (finding a treasure for example at the end) and within a given time limit is very motivating. The time limit is also an important parameter for the teacher whose class time is de facto all limited.
The creation of the game takes a lot of time, and also has its limits, for example for the Leonardo da Vinci escape game, it took into account the specificities of the place used, and was therefore difficult to transpose.”

 



Cite this blog post
Elena Iuliani (2021, January 29). A spoon of…Escape game in educational context . Episode 1 : From idea to implementation, trainer testimony. SPOON Open Notebook ūü•Ą SPOON . Retrieved June 13, 2024, from https://doi.org/10.58079/ujbj

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