The Oubliette: Summary


Supervised By: Dr Mark Peace and Prof Ricardo Nemirovsky

This project will construct a maths-based attraction inspired by rise in popularity of attractions like escape rooms and the Crystal Maze. Once constructed, participants will engage with eight rooms, each containing interactive puzzles and challenges drawing on mathematical principles – which they will need to solve collaboratively, and using their whole bodies. The experience will be wrapped in an overarching story and a set of game mechanics which will motivate and encourage persistence.

EdLab students will be pivotal to this project in a number of ways. Some teams will work on the design of individual ‘rooms’. You will be provided with a set of example mathematical principles, which you will transform into a challenge which can be differentiated for different ages and abilities. You will pilot this with schools and community groups in order to refine and perfect the experience. Other groups will work to ‘gamify’ this experience, producing an overall story in which to embed the challenges and a set of game-mechanics to support engagement and progression through them. The work of EdLab will contribute to a broader project funded by corporate sponsors and in collaboration with the Cooperative, who have donated a venue for the work. We will build the resultant design – with the aspiration that it will engage 3,000 young people over a six week period beginning in May 2018. There will be a further opportunity for EdLab students to be paid to run the installation during this period.

The project is based on disrupting some of the negative ways we tend to frame mathematics as private, quiet and constrained – in which a focus on ‘right answers’ stifles creativity and creates risk-aversion. Instead, we are making something where maths is collaborative, embodied, experimental and fundamentally joyous. Through the project, you will explore the value of these qualities in educational provision. You will also gain confidence around the process of differentiation (providing appropriate educational challenge across groups) – and the importance of varying scaffold whilst ensuring that all learners achieve the same outcomes. Finally, you will play with notions of gamification in motivating learning.

Student participants in this project can come from any discipline or area – and you don’t definitely don’t have to be confident with Maths! We will provide the basic mathematical mechanisms of the project: you will be creative in turning these into a challenge.



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