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Puzzles and Coding in Creative Computing’s Escape Room

In creative computing, Peck’s eighth-graders set forth to create the experience of a lifetime for their fellow classmates. Earlier this year, students in this elective class visited Trap Door Escape Room in Morristown. They utilized Agency by Design to look closely and explore the complexity of how the Escape Room functions. “By creating this escape room, it teaches students design, collaboration, and risk-taking," said Bruce Schwartz, director of the Osborn Idea & Design Lab. “But in the process, they’re also learning about Arduino and the associated programming language.” Arduino is an open-source electronic prototyping platform that enables users to create interactive electronic objects. Using this tool, students came up with several creative, and fun challenges for their Peck community.
Creative computing students also persevered throughout this experience. Due to Covid, students visiting their potential secondary schools, and snow days, their time available to work was cut several times; therefore, they had to think on their feet to rework their plan and manage the project. Additionally, they had to relocate the project as a whole, requiring the team to create a new floor plan and work with various materials to create each room. 

The story begins in a warehouse, threatened by nuclear destruction. Players need to find the deactivation code in order to escape. By solving the puzzles in each room, players received one or more numbers for the ultimate five-digit code. Eighth-grade advisories ventured into each room with vigor and tackled the first task: deciphering a light’s morse code message to then unlock a cash register with the correct three-digit numerical code. In the cash register’s drawer awaited a key and a flashlight, to unlock the next room’s puzzle—the pharmacy.

Into the pharmacy they went, and armed with their new flashlight they attempted to solve the next puzzle with a new set of clues. Another cash register awaited them this time, along with walls with solution-filled syringes. A manual hydraulic system allowed players to find the next set of clues and codes, by pressing each plunger down in the correct combination to reveal numbers and colors to unlock the drawer and head into the next room.

A strange box sat in a corner of the break room atop a desk, with curtains of green surrounding them. Players must not touch the contents within the box—at least not with their hands—and must ind something else to trigger the switch within. There was a written clue on the wall, referencing something that allows things to stick. After some problem-solving, players looked under the desk to reveal a glue stick. When players used the glue stick within the box, the weight triggered a switch which revealed the next clue to the final room.

The final number awaited the players, encased in a duct tape-covered treasure chest. Players needed to find the solution to open the chest and reveal what was inside. To unlock the treasure, students pulled out a chair with a taped “X” on it, revealing a pair of scissors to ultimately receive the final number.

Advisories called out the numbers in unison after placing the code in the correct order.  Students shared that the escape room was a rewarding and fun experience for both the players and the creators.
 
Watch the video to see the action, and to learn more about the details of how our students and tech department collaborated to create a critical-thinking, puzzle-filled wonderland for their community.
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