Think of it as “The Breakfast Club” meets “CSI.”
A group of people, consigned to after-school detention, needs to leave within the hour to attend a friend’s party.
But the door is locked and no one from the outside will release them.
Within the room are hidden a dozen interdependent clues and puzzles which must be discovered and solved to access the key to the door.
The room is equipped with 16 student desks, teacher’s desk, two white boards, overhead projector and screen, filing cabinet, bookshelves and scores of textbooks.
The clues could be anywhere and in any form.
Welcome to the Grace College Escape Room, a hands-on adventure in logic and deduction designed and built by Dr. Kristin Farwell and his senior seminar mathematics majors.
“No special knowledge” of math, wordplay or trivia is required, according to Farwell, associate professor of mathematics and director of the mathematics program at Grace College. “All the clues and puzzles are based on logic.”
He added cryptically, “The key is locked inside of something and you have to figure out the access to that something.”
The room opened to the public in mid-May and is available by appointment throughout the summer.
“The escape room is ideal for service organizations, birthday parties, team building exercises, family reunions and for entertaining out-of-town visitors,” said Farwell. “It gets people out of the traditional track of thinking.”
The excursion is designed for groups of four, but “with a group of six it takes about 45 minutes.”
Reservations can be made by emailing Farwell at [email protected] and signing up for a time slot on a Google share document.
The document is cloud based and records reservations in real time.
The cost is $15 per adult, $5 per student. The proceeds pay a student worker to monitor the room and fund the design and construction of a new improved escape room slated to begin in September.
“Our senior seminar class will redesign the room for a more team-building exercise,” said Farwell. “This one is more linear, and we want participants to communicate more and solve the clues as a group.”
Farwell became intrigued with the burgeoning escape room phenomenon and asked his senior class whether any of them had seen an escape room. One student said she had.
“So we asked, ‘What if we build an escape room?’” said Farwell. The students prepared a budget and built a prototype in their classroom, inviting Grace faculty and students to try it out.
“People loved it and the college gave us a room. A lot of what we needed was donated.”
Farwell’s class generated 60 ideas for clues and puzzles and culled them down to 12. “We used two as presented and tweaked the rest to integrate them with the other clues.”
Groups are given a pad and pen to work out solutions and the 140 participants thus far have emerged with glowing reviews.
“They are very surprised by the quality of the clues,” said Farwell. “I’m proud of the dedication and creativity these students demonstrated in designing the room.”
“I hope that many from the community will make plans to experience the escape room and put their wit to the test.”
For more information, contact Farwell at (574) 372-5100, ext. 6303 or [email protected]