“The corona vaccine was stolen” is the premise in a digital exit game that mathematics teacher training students at the University of Duisburg-Essen designed as a competition for schoolchildren. Participants have to find the vaccine before the cooling fails. This horror scenario is the subject of one of four Exit Games.
"The corona vaccine was stolen, find it again before the cooling fails!" This is how teacher training courses describe the scenario for an exit game in which students from the Ruhr area have to solve puzzles or math problems. The subject is thus close to reality. The mathematical puzzles embedded in a story demand creativity from young people as well as from students. In this way, the latter get to know the tools of the trade for various digital and analog teaching formats.
Exit games: Correct solutions drive series of tasks forward
A total of 25 math aces from two high schools in the Ruhr area - the Max Planck High School in Duisburg and the Otto Hahn High School in Herne - puzzles once a week - virtually due to the Corona situation. The process is based on what is known from classic escape or puzzle games: As a team, the students set tasks, for example, solving mathematical crossword puzzles that decipher secret messages or sound recordings.
The participants always have to use their mathematical knowledge to find the solution. This is the focus of the student project: Master's degree students in mathematics are directly involved in the game sessions - they moderate the video conference games live. If there is a problem, they give you tips.
To design the puzzles and riddles, the students searched the darkest corners of mathematical methods: arithmetic, algebra, stochastics, geometry and functions - each week a different area is in the foreground. The reward for the effort: Whoever solves the puzzles fastest, wins a trophy and exit games for home.
Creativity and Math ?! And whether!
The project planners have shown creativity to make the mathematical exit game as exciting as possible. The tasks are mostly interlinked and linked. For example, equations have to be solved and the results entered as coordinates into an online map service. And then: the name of the nearest bakery is the password for the next step.
Use a timetable to calculate the fastest connection or solve symbol puzzles - some of the tasks are really tricky: "I needed something for a puzzle," admits Dr. Daniel Thurm from the mathematics didactics of the University of Essen-Duisburg. He oversees the project. “But we want the students to explore their limits from time to time.” Thurm leads the student project and developed it together with teachers from the cooperating grammar schools.
"For young people, especially in the current situation, it is an exciting offer where they can learn something on the side," says Thurm. The students would have incredible skills in teaching online as they incorporate various digital formats into the games. In the end, everyone benefits - schoolchildren, students, professorships, and if the corona vaccine were actually stolen, probably also those who would have to find it.
According to the University of Duisburg-Essen, the project is geared towards the long term and is to be continued after the corona pandemic has ended. By the way: If you thought, given the math topics, you would encourage math aces to solve puzzles shortly before graduation. This is by no means the case: students in the ninth grade take part in the competition.
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