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Finding the Vaccine in an Escape Room

Amid this global catastrophe, the vast majority of us are going through uncertainties and changes. As a part of a young demographic, online schooling, relying on our phones to communicate with our friends, and not being able to leave our houses are just some of the adaptations we have to make to our daily lives. However, something that this pandemic cannot and will not take away from us is our sense of community, even if it has to be online. In times like these, it is up to all of us to embrace this pandemic as an opportunity to support each other and strengthen all of us a whole. We're all in this together regardless of our physical distancing.

Here at the PCA Youth Center, we have been exploring and seeking out fun but educational ways to connect with our community virtually. A few weeks ago, our student council came up with the concept to hold an online escape room, and we designed it to be playable for all ages, even adults. Though we could not recreate an actual 3-D room filled with hidden clues, we created a website filled with clues and hints that would take the player through an imaginative storyline instead. The player’s goal is to find the “Coronavirus Vaccine” by finding and solving the clues in each room that are hyperlinked throughout the site. The first team to finish the escape room and find the “vaccine” wins a $40 gift card.

On May 10, we held the event over Zoom. Around 40 participants (ranging from 2nd graders to adults) signed up, including 2 families. The participants were divided into groups of four, and each student council member was in charge of a group. As a student council member, I was assigned to proctor a group that consisted of four 7th graders. As soon as the meeting started, my computer screen became alive with the smiling and curious faces of the kids! My heart was pumping with excitement to see the kids demonstrate such enthusiasm, despite all of us going through a hard time. The game ran very smoothly and with some hints provided, the kids were able to use their problem-solving skills and teamwork to quickly move through each room until they finally reached the vaccine and escaped! My team actually won the game in the shortest time! It was fascinating to watch them play with such high levels of collaboration and teamwork.

This online activity organized by our PCA Youth Center was well-received among the participants. Many parents and kids were asking for another similar event. Some of them even said that they couldn’t wait for our next event! I know that behind the scenes, all the PCA student council members and parents put tons of hours of hard work to prepare for this event so it would run meticulously. We had virtual meetings every weekend (and sometimes during the week) to discuss and plan out every detail. We tried out the game many times with the parent council in order to receive feedback to fix and improve our game to make it as enjoyable as possible for the participants. All of it was volunteer work from our members who happily donated their own time, despite their busy schedules. Some were even preparing their AP exams that would take place the following day.

At the PCA Youth Center, we care deeply for our community and hope to make a positive impact through our events. Thank you to everyone who supported and participated in this and past events. Thank you to the student council (Crystal, Yi-Fei, Kevin, Hannah, Sophia, Edward, Iris, Matthew, Jessica, Aaron), the counselors (Amy and Jefferson), and the parent council for such endless hours of perseverance and teamwork. Big thanks to Yi-Fei, who spent hours designing the escape room website. We are already working hard on our next event, so please stay tuned! We look forward to seeing you all again very soon!

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