Media release: Space prison escape room brought to life at Elgin Academy


A SPACE prison escape room has been brought to life at Elgin Academy, following pupils’ national competition success.

Primary and secondary pupils taking part in the escape room experience will have to solve maths puzzles to get out. The design of the escape room replicates the pupils’ entry into the Cracking the Code competition, run by Nesta, in partnership with Tata group and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).

Pupils were asked to design their own ‘crystal maze’ style escape room by coming up with a storyline and a series of maths puzzles that must be solved to get out. The team were crowned winners at an event held at The Crystal in London in June, where nine teams of finalists presented their escape room designs to a panel of judges.

HMS Supernova, a group of S2 and S3 pupils, set their escape room scenario in a space prison of the future, where prisoners are held and then ejected out into space. Having been framed for a crime, the escape room player must solve the puzzles in time in order to avoid being lost in space forever. Their design has now been turned into reality with the help of the Problem Solving Company.

The Cracking the Code competition is a part of the Maths Mission, a series of pilots seeking to find the most effective ways to increase young people’s interest in maths, and improve their collaborative problem-solving skills. In its first year, 118 schools registered for the competition from across the UK, with 400 students participating, consisting of 41% boys and 59% girls.

Lynne Weir, Elgin Academy’s principal teacher of Mathematics, said: “To believe and try something new and different is courageous and makes me extremely proud of Josh, Carrie, Kelly, Jonathan and Lexi. Very much an innovative and hardworking team, they are a credit to the Academy and their families. This is an exciting opportunity for all our young people to realise that if they work hard, there are great rewards out there.”

Cllr Sonya Warren, chair of Moray Council’s Children & Young People’s Services Committee, said: “The pupils’ success in the national competition was a proud moment for all involved.It’s testament to the hard work, teamwork and creativity of HMS Supernova, not forgetting the inspirational teaching staff supporting them every step of the way. They all deserve special recognition and I hope every pupil that experiences the space prison escape room thoroughly enjoys it.”

David Landsman, executive director, Tata Limited, said: “I’ve been looking forward to the opportunity to visit Elgin Academy and congratulate the team in person for their achievement in designing the winning escape room. From what I saw, they really enjoyed the experience. But for us at Tata, there’s a serious point too: cracking the maths code provides the opportunity to “escape” into many different great careers. Our businesses range from salt to steel, tea to IT, premium cars and luxury hotels. In every one, our colleagues use maths at work every day. I hope the Elgin Academy team will be a great example of what young people can do with maths, and what maths can do for you.”

Joysy John, director of Education at Nesta, said: “With Cracking the Code we wanted to show students just what you can achieve if you mix maths with creativity and teamwork. A survey of the finalists showed that 100 per cent of the students involved reported the competition had helped them to see how maths can be applied usefully and in a new context. Schools can make learning maths more interesting if we get students to solve problems in interesting contexts while helping them build important skills to make them future ready.”

Famous for its colony of dolphins, fabulous beaches and more malt whisky distilleries than any where else in Scotland, Moray is a thriving area and a great place to live. Nestling between Aberdeenshire and the Highlands, Moray stretches from Tomintoul in the south to the shores of the Moray Firth, from Keith in the east to Brodie Castle in the west.

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