University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign


Learning from experience


From Player to Maker:
Teaching Coding and Electronics through Escape Rooms and Game Design

The engagement team was invited to present at the Bradley STEM Conference, where we ran a workshop on using microcontrollers to create an Escape Room in a Box for approximately 10 – 12 educators. Staff built demo box escape rooms that had puzzles using Micro:Bits, Arduinos, and Circuit Playground Expresses, so that teachers could play an example “room”, as well as see the differences between the different platforms. We then went over the advantages and disadvantages of each platform, and the process of building an escape room. Educators left with an online repository of information, tutorials, and lesson plans for leading their own Escape Room building programs with teens.


Iterative Learning through Lithophane Light Boxes

This work is the result of a series of programs run at UNCC in 2018.

Over three weeks, girls at UNCC took photos and converted them into 3D printed Lithophanes, learned to code an Arduino to control NeoPixels, and make the lights react to the inputs from a sound sensor. All of this was put together into a laser-cut box that lit up the lithophane when music was played near it. While programming electronics is usually something difficult to get the girls engaged and interested in, this project tied it to their own interests, and a physical outcome they could see.

"They became very energetic and excited when they saw their lithophanes, as well as when they got the light sensors to work - while they had been slightly resistant to [the coding aspect of the project] before that point."