Project Details and Explanation:

Since you can’t actually play our escape room, here is what would happen if you did (also refer to our video) → Upon looking around the room, you find an index card saying “:) most to least faces :)”. This is a hint that the passcode into the chest is based on the platonic solids, in some order of least to most faces. There is also a poster on the wall with this same “:)” and a diagram of the faces of the platonic solids to serve as another hint to play around with them. After seeing the single letter options you decide on the code THODI (tetrahedron, hexahedron, octahedron, dodecahedron, then icosahedron in order of faces). Once you open the chest, there are a bunch more shapes and then a sort of faucet-looking item. After moving around with the faucet in hand you realize that if you get close enough to the sink the handle teleports to the faucet. Upon looking around the room you realize that there is both a watering can and a plant, and a poster of photosynthesis that suggests watering that same plant. If you walk to the sink with the watering can, it fills up with water, at which point you are able to water the sunflower. The sunflower grows and hits the ceiling, releasing a CD that falls from a moved ceiling tile. At first, a CD seems to have no place in this classroom, but upon looking around you see a CD slot connected to a projector. If you get close to the CD slot while holding the CD, it goes right in the slot and a projection of the periodic table appears on the white board. Upon close inspection, you realize that it is missing a few elements. You search around the room and find papers with a bunch of different elements, and have to figure out which ones are already on the table and which ones are missing. You notice that you need to submit another passcode but this time on the teacher’s computer. You look around and see the poster about what an atomic number is, and you realize the passcode must be related to this. You also notice a clue on the white board about sorting in alphabetical order, and you decide to sort the atomic numbers of the three missing elements in alphabetical order and enter the code 461474 into the computer. The teacher’s desk opens, and you have the final key. You run to the door, unlock it, and escape! You had some fun and learned along the way ;)

Our project today:

In a time where we are largely confined to our homes, virtual reality technology provides us an opportunity to explore new spaces - and new realities - without having to venture out into public. Escape rooms have always been a special activity for us to do with friends, and we wanted to utilize virtual reality to create a digital version of a beloved pastime. We aimed to combine our passion for escape rooms, gaming, and education in this project.

Having been out of school since March and unsure when we will return to the classroom we wanted to create a digital classroom space as the setting for our escape room. Because of our background with educational video games, we wanted to introduce an academic element, hence the science and math concepts that form the basis of our clues. We hope that students will not only be entertained by our escape room game, but will also learn from completing it.

We also designed this classroom in a way that it can be adapted and used for actual virtual learning in the future. We have had conversations with Dr. Fan and hope to pursue this idea of a “virtual classroom” (without the escape room element and more lesson based) in the future.

Before the hackathon we brainstormed ideas and came up with the idea of the classroom escape room simulation but did not begin any physical work or create our project file. The UE4 project file was newly made at the beginning of the hackathon on saturday. We used the basic map and controls in UE4 for Oculus Rift as well as free downloadable texture packs from epic games. Our models are a mix of CAD models we made during the hackathon and open source models (we can provide a full list of resources used).

Blueprints:

We made all codes in this game completely independently, without any tutorials or open source work. If you want to see full blueprints we would be happy to send. :)

Backstory:

Anna and I met at the NYU Mechatronics lab last summer as interns where we predominantly worked with Unity 2D/3D making user interfaces for phD projects. We were rising seniors in high school at the time, and we became fast friends bonded by our passion for STEM. In January we began working for Girls’ Angle, a math organization based out of Cambridge, MA that works to get young women and girls interested in math. Under the guidance of founder and CEO Dr. Ken Fan, we have been exploring how we can use UE4 and virtual reality to help students visualize and understand higher dimensions. We hope to continue to develop this project and find other ways to use technology to enhance math education, particularly for underserved girls, like those who benefit from Girls’ Angle’s resources.

Cindy has studied animation and digital design at the Art Institute of Chicago, Carnegie Mellon University, and will be attending the Digital Media Design program at the University of Pennsylvania this fall. She is interested in art for film, tv, and video games. While she is experienced in Unity programming, she contributes mainly to the visual elements of the project.

The three of us are all recent (this June!) graduates of girls high schools and going on to study engineering in college next year.

Full version (6 minutes): https://youtu.be/s1Z3wyDstYk

2 minute demo linked below.