This year, we took our online STEM escape room, Back for the Future, on tour around Ireland! As part of SFI Science Week and funded under its discover programme, 124 students and adults solved puzzles in an attempt to make Ireland sustainable and save the planet.
Back for the Future is an escape room themed around tackling the climate crisis. Players are contacted by a scientist (played by our actors) who lives in a bleak future where the climate crisis was not solved. It’s too late to save the planet in their time and so they reach out to citizens in the past (2021), to finish off vital research that will set Ireland on a sustainable path.
The escape room is set in a BiOrbic researcher’s office. Players must finish their research in the form of puzzles and have only 40 minutes to do it. Guided by our actor who speaks to them over Zoom, every puzzle they solve has positive impacts on the future, and our actor shows them in real time how their situation is improving. Whether it’s transforming their pill-based diet into real food, purifying their water or cleansing the air, allowing them to take their mask off!
Finally when the room is solved, the actor confirms they are now living in paradise and their hair has even managed to grow back!
Players are then given the chance to take a photograph with their game time and speak to BiOrbic researchers who conduct the real science the puzzles are inspired from. There are three main puzzles that cover the areas of:
- Carbon Neutral Farming
- Waste Management
In relation to ‘biodiversity‘, players spoke to Cian White, whose research helps farmers map out the biodiversity on their farms and Andrew Neill, who studies natural capital. For ‘carbon neutral farming‘, they spoke to Gavin Hunt, Emma Sherlock and Alejandro Vergara, three of the members of the Farm Zero C project – aiming to establish the worlds first carbon neutral dairy farm through a variety of strategies. And for ‘waste management‘ they spoke to Ciara Lynch, whose project is finding new uses for waste produced by the pharmaceutical industry.
Players had the chance to learn about the above research, ask questions and in the case of students, explore career paths in STEM.
The tour went to three areas, Kilkenny City Branch Library (Kilkenny), Sean Lemass Library (Clare), and Blessington Community College (Wicklow). We were absolutely delighted to work with and be hosted by these three fantastic educational organisations. Thank you to Nuala Roche, Aisling Kelly, Caroline Aherne, Teresa Ball and everyone else who we met along the way who helped us run this event.
A big thank you also goes out to all the researchers who contributed their time to talk to the public about their work and to our actors Ace Remington and Melanie Baur, without whom the games would not have been anywhere near as entertaining and fun!
Finally, well done to all of our players! Every single team managed to beat the room and you can see their times below!