When I was approached by the Applied Innovation and Corporate Social Responsibility team to help to create an escape room for NI Science Fest, I quickly found myself saying “I’m in!”.

For those of you who do not know, an escape room is ‘a themed room where you and your team find clues and solve puzzles to escape the room in an allocated time’.  I had taken part in several escape rooms before, so I knew that this would be a challenge but one I was definitely excited to take on.

Jessica Caldwell (CSR), our stakeholder, had expressed her vision of what type of event she wanted us to try to achieve, she made the coordinating process with NI Science Fest a breeze. After this initial meeting it was over to Josh and myself to bring the project to life. Josh Kelso, software engineer and the brains behind the room, had worked hard to ensure the functioning of the room would be a success. It was my job to ensure that the room was designed in such a way so that everyone who entered had a great experience and would hopefully be engaged from start to finish. Most importantly, I had been asked to ensure that it was accessible to all.

There were several things on my ‘to-do’ list:

  1. Create storyboards to map out the user journey throughout the room.
  2. Decide on a theme for the room – spoiler: we decided on a hacker theme.
  3. Design a website and the tablet interfaces, which would serve as the platform the kids would use to input the codes and algorithms.
  4. Work with Josh to design a storyboard for a video which we were able to pass to Natalia to turn our vision into reality, this scored serious ‘ooohhs’ and ‘aahhhs’ from the kids.
  5. Dress the room by creating posters and sourcing light fittings to ‘set the tone’.
  6. Start the test runs!!

After all of the above was complete, we were ready for the main event. This turned out to be a great success with over 90 participants and 12 sessions! The feedback we received was overwhelming, and the insights and takeaways the kids had provided were so much more than we were expecting, several of the participates went on to score the experience 11 out of 10 – I know it defies the laws of math but I’ll take it!

For me, this was a great opportunity to step out of my every day and have the opportunity to really be creative. I also got to work with people across the company that I may not have had the opportunity to otherwise. I would definitely encourage more people to get involved with opportunities that are being hosted by the CSR team, who knows you may get to create the next escape room!