Blog: Bright Ideas

Behind the major: Mystery Room - The Great Escape

You’ve probably heard of mystery rooms or escape games: immersive problem-solving experiences chock full of puzzles that, when unraveled, allow a team of players to make their way out of a room. You may have even tackled one of these mystery rooms yourself. But have you ever created one from scratch? Campers in our Mystery Room: The Great Escape major at Galileo Summer Quest do just that. We sat down with Davin Lyons, a Galileo science curriculum developer and the mind behind Mystery Room, to get the inside scoop on Galileo Summer Quest’s most puzzling major.

What do you love about this major?

My favorite thing about Mystery Room is the limitless directions that a room can take. Last summer, there were so many unique room ideas that I would never have imagined myself. And of course, the collaborative nature of the room design and build is incredible. Last summer, I was continually impressed by the degree to which campers collaborated when designing and sequencing their puzzles, then building and testing the rooms.

What are you most excited about for this major?

I’m super excited to visit Mystery Room classrooms and talk to campers and teams to hear about how they translated their team’s vision for their room into a reality. I love the variety of puzzle ideas that campers envision, and I never get tired of listening to campers explain the puzzle paths they had created. Again, the variety of unique and clever ideas is amazing to see.

What's new to this major this year?

Since this major was completely new last summer, one of the biggest changes we’ll see in 2018 is that instructors coming back for a second year of Mystery Room will have more experience with the major. Since this kind of major isn’t found elsewhere, educators with experience in teaching escape room design didn't really exist, and Mystery Room instructors learned a ton last year. I’m looking forward to seeing how instructors (and campers!) bring their prior experience with the major to the table.

What will be the most exciting thing for campers? The most challenging?

Campers will find the experience of seeing their ideas for the room take shape, including getting an intricate puzzle path to work, incredibly rewarding. This piece can be challenging, but the payoff of having pushed through and created something awesome is so worth it. Other campers will be especially excited by making their rooms immersive, creating themed props and puzzle components that tell a story and really bring the room to life. Finally, there’s the testing. Watching others play the room is both one of the most exciting and challenging things that happens over the week - exciting to have others experience the room, and challenging because puzzles don't always work right the first time through. Components might break, or players might do unexpected things, and the room always requires redesign - but campers learn to frame these challenges as opportunities to make their rooms even better.

How will campers practice the Galileo Innovation Approach in this major?

Mystery Room gives campers the opportunity to practice the full Innovator’s Mindset. First, campers will be visionary. There’s no escape room template, so campers will need to come up with novel ideas and find a way to turn those ideas into reality. Campers will be courageous as they voice their creative ideas for the room with their team. They’ll also be collaborative as they work in teams to design and build the room. I’ve mentioned that building the room is not easy; campers will evaluate and redesign often, and sometimes ideas must be totally scrapped, which is a great opportunity for campers to practice being determined. And of course, since campers are designing experiences, they are constantly being reflective and thinking about how others will experience their room.


The puzzles campers will build in Mystery Room: The Great Escape are impressive, and the rooms themselves are pretty incredible. But it’s no mystery that the most amazing thing that campers build at Galileo Summer Quest is the belief that they have the ability to turn their ideas into reality.