752   Insight talk

Lab Enigmas: Immersive games to communicate science

Author: Marí­a Eugenia Lopez
Centro Cultural de la Ciencia, Argentina

In developing a dialogue around science topics, research has shown that citizens need a safe space in which to have meaningful conversations. We know that positive learning environments can be created through games because they facilitate social interaction and generate motivation through engagement and reward, while allowing participants to make mistakes. 

Taking this into account we created Lab Enigmas, an immersive game in an escape room format, where participants use scientific practices and reasoning to solve puzzles. In this insight talk, we explore the advantages and disadvantages of employing this format in a science center such as the “Cultural Center for Science” located in Buenos Aires, Argentina. 

Our specific aims were to (a) attract young and adult audiences, (b) foster a taste and interest in science, (c) communicate science as a collective adventure, and (d) get participants in touch with scientific practices and reasoning. The visitors’ reception was positive, we managed to attract adolescent and adult public and we were able to verify, through a survey, that our communication goals were met successfully. Lab Enigmas was implemented for more than one year and the events were always sold to capacity. Players discovered patterns, communicated their findings, changed their opinion when evidence was shown, and found creative solutions while having fun. Most importantly, participants demonstrated an understanding of science as a collaborative endeavor and developed positive attitudes towards scientific reasoning. 

After Lab Enigmas was launched, we were approached by other institutions who wanted to build their own immersive experience with similar goals. We moved forward developing another game, this time with forensic theme, and we are currently running pre- and post-tests to study public perception of science. Ultimately, we feel the effective communication of science through the transformation of a popular form of entertainment is a model that should be replicated.

Co-author: Leonardo Svarc
Centro Cultural de la Ciencia, Argentina

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