A team of students from Elgin Academy have been announced as the winners of the Cracking the Code competition. The competition, run by Nesta in partnership with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) asked students to design their own crystal maze-style escape room by coming up with a storyline and a series of puzzles that must be solved to get out.
Held at The Crystal in London, finalists from nine school across the UK presented their designs to judges including:
- Bruno Reddy, Founder of Times Table Rockstars
- Maggie Steel of Funkey Maths
- Zoe Cunningham, Managing Director of Softwire
A number of volunteers from TCS and Will Woods, an escape room expert, also took part in the judging process, ultimately finding Elgin Academy to have designed the most innovative and creative escape room.
Cracking the Code
The “space prison” design by the HMS Supanova team saw them create a futuristic prison where prisoners were held and then ejected out into space.
The elaborate storyline created as part of the project sees an individual framed from a crime. The escape room player then must solve the puzzles in time in order to avoid being lost in space forever. The team wowed judges, going above and beyond the brief by creating a video, presentation and creating a 3D printed mock-up of the escape room itself.
Carrie, a member of the winning team from Elgin Academy said the competition was a great experience and allowed students to develop their teamwork abilities. She said: “It was a great experience and I cried when I found out we’d won. We developed our teamwork a lot and all became much better friends.”
Coming second place behind Team Supanova was an all-girls team from Gloucester’s Al-Ashraf Secondary School for Girls. The Al-Ashraf team also wowed the judges with an innovative escape room design, based on a museum in the year 3000.
This design required participants to use braille and Morse Code to safely crack their way out the challenging escape room.
Nurturing Interest in Maths
The Cracking the Code competition is a part of the Maths Mission, a series of pilots aimed at increasing young people’s interest in maths and improving their collaborative problem-solving skills.
Currently, the UK doesn’t rank as highly in maths as it should. Maths plays an integral role in science, technology and engineering, yet UK teenagers just do not seem to be interested in taking up the subject – coming 27th in the OECD’s most recent PISA rankings for Maths.
Joysy John, Director for Education at Nesta believes competitions such as Cracking the Code offer a valuable opportunity to drive interest in the subject and prepare students for life in a digital age.
She said: “The world is changing and we will need maths to tackle some of the biggest issues facing the world, especially in a digital age.
“It’s important to get young people thinking laterally about it now so they realise that maths isn’t just about solving problems for yourself, but can be used to tackle some of the problems we’re all facing together.”