The project, which took place over ten weekly sessions at the STEM Discovery Centre, saw students studying a range of maths topics to help them develop puzzles for their own VR-capable online escape room. Students worked in groups to develop ideas, created project files to record their progress, and ultimately pooled their ideas to generate one totally awesome escape room experience. Their work was then celebrated at the end of the project through an awards ceremony, with Donal O’Kane and Barbara Fiut attending to represent IGT.
The project was supported by funding received from IGT, which enabled the STEM Centre to purchase new computers, 360-degree cameras, software, and other valuable resources – including the amazing new Probability Machine exhibit, which is available for all visitors to use.
The new Probability Machine allowed students to pull together their ideas to plan their maths-based clues and challenges for their escape room.
Shell Fearn, Manager of the STEM Discovery Centre, said: “Many of the home-educating students that we work with have anxieties around formal education and they have been diagnosed with ASD, ADD, ADHD, and/or dyslexia, which is why they have opted out of mainstream school. Our programme of activity aims to engage them with mathematics as well as allowing them to develop many work-ready skills such as time management, communication, initiative, and compromise.
“We wanted to find a project to engage students who have been switched off from education, a project which they can not only be proud of but also which they feel is an official product that anyone can use – the idea for a virtual escape room was perfect for this.”
Check out some of the students’ work here:
Funding enables upskilling & learning
The partnership was brought about by Sharon Duncalf, Vice President of Global Lottery Insights & Account Planning, who was looking for an opportunity to support STEM education initiatives in Hertfordshire. Through the funding from IGT, STEM Discovery Centre has not only been able to increase the number of interactive exhibits available to visitors but has also led to the STEM team upskilling through training sessions with Nick Hart from Moor Ideas.
Moor Ideas also supported students and parents through training sessions introducing them to Google Classroom and how to use Thinglink software.
The learning didn’t end here, though – the STEM Discovery Centre team also spent a day providing team building and brainstorming sessions for staff across IGT UK sites. This experience allowed the STEM team to gain a much better understanding of what IGT does and how different areas of the business use maths in their day-to-day work, such as anticipating cyberattacks and hacking attempts, as well as developing preventative measures and market research.
Shell said of the experience: “It was really great to spend time with the IGT team; they were all so enthusiastic and supportive of what we wanted to achieve with the funding. Having the opportunity to give them a taste of what we do and exchange ideas provided us with much needed insight into their individual areas of expertise, which was vital towards embedding context and work-ready skills in our programme of activity.”