Live Action Role Play (LARP) provides an engaging and interactive platform that allows participants to immerse in a narrative world and experience stories firsthand. When you integrate STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) elements it becomes an EduLARP. This lets you not only offer educational opportunities but also add depth and complexity to your story. 

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to seamlessly incorporate STEM into your EduLARP, amplifying the narrative through scientific intrigue. If you are using our free Universal Game System Lite, we have provided you with examples for each of the themes covered in that LARP system:

1. How will STEM fit into your Story?

Determine how STEM will fit into your story’s universe. Whether it’s a post-apocalyptic world that relies on renewable energy or a medieval setting with rudimentary machines, ensure the science serves the story. 

    • Zombies: Discover the formula to reverse the zombie condition.
    • Medieval Fantasy: Alchemists use techniques to transform elements.
    • Superhero: Science holds the key to amplifying or understanding powers.
    • Space: Exploration is driven by new scientific breakthroughs.
    • Spy: Technology is pivotal for deciphering critical information.
    • Nature Protectors: Science aids in conservation and understanding ecosystems.

2. Which STEM concepts do you want to explore?

Then start identifying the STEM concepts that you want to incorporate into your LARP according to the theme. For example, if you want to focus on engineering, you can use puzzles that require players to create machines or structures. If you want to add math, use puzzles that require players to solve equations or calculate probabilities. This can encourage your players to use their problem-solving skills and also show how to apply STEM concepts in problem solving.

    • Zombies: Delve into biology and viral studies.
    • Medieval: Explore simple mechanics and alchemy.
    • Superhero: Dive into physics and genetic mutations.
    • Space: Astronomy and advanced propulsion systems are key.
    • Spy: The art of cryptography and decoding is paramount.
    • Nature Protectors: Understand ecology and conservation.

3. What kind of STEM vocabulary can you introduce?

To make your LARP more educational, introduce STEM-related vocabulary that players can use to describe the concepts that they are working with. This can include terms like “engineering,” “physics,” or “programming.” By using these terms, players can begin to understand the underlying concepts behind the challenges they are presented with.

    • Zombies: Terms like “antidote”, “contagion”, and “mutation”.
    • Medieval: “Leverage”, “fulcrum”, and “transmutation”.
    • Superhero: “Kinetics”, “mutation”, and “acceleration”.
    • Space: “Orbit”, “gravity well”, and “spectrometry”.
    • Spy: “Cipher”, “algorithm”, and “encryption”.
    • Nature Protectors: “Biodiversity”, “conservation”, and “habitat”.

4. What kinds of props will elevate the experience?

Invest in quality props that simulate real-world STEM equipment. This could range from lab equipment for experiments to simple pulley systems. Authenticity can greatly enhance immersion.

    • Zombies: Microscope slides with “infected blood.”
    • Medieval: Mock alchemical instruments.
    • Superhero: Gadget blueprints.
    • Space: Telescope or star charts.
    • Spy: Cipher wheels.
    • Nature Protectors: Sample collection kits.

5. What puzzles will drive the Narrative?

One way to integrate STEM into your LARP is to create challenges that require players to apply the STEM concepts you introduce to solve problems in a way that the solution pertains to the story. This not only adds a new level of excitement to the game, but it also makes the challenges more exciting by propelling the player through the story.

    • Zombies: Discovering the right biological compound for a cure.
    • Medieval: Crafting a pulley system to draw water during a drought.
    • Superhero: Constructing a gadget harnessing sound waves.
    • Space: Navigating the cosmos using star maps.
    • Spy: Decoding an encrypted message using mathematical sequences.
    • Nature Protectors: Identifying species through DNA analysis.

6. How to deliver the educational concepts?

Whenever players encounter a STEM element, provide a brief educational background. This can be done through NPCs (Non-Player Characters) who are experts in the field or through in-game texts.

    • Zombies: An NPC describes virus transmission.
    • Medieval: An elder explains gear mechanisms.
    • Superhero: A scientist NPC elucidates sound wave principles.
    • Space: An astronaut NPC teaches about constellations.
    • Spy: A mentor figure introduces encryption methods.
    • Nature Protectors: A biologist NPC talks about local flora and fauna.

7. How to allow for Trial and Error?

Real-world STEM often involves hypothesis testing and iteration. Design your challenges in a way that encourages players to think critically, try different solutions, and learn from their mistakes. So plan in enough time during the challenges for failure and new attempts.

    • Zombies: Test various compounds before finding the cure.
    • Medieval: Iterate on pulley design.
    • Superhero: Refine gadget functionalities.
    • Space: Correcting navigation errors.
    • Spy: Testing different decryption keys.
    • Nature Protectors: Hypothesize on the best habitats for species.

8. Where can you incorporate Collaborative Learning?

Easy: Design STEM challenges that require collaboration. For example, a complex machine might need multiple players to operate different parts in sequence. This promotes teamwork and reinforces the idea that many scientific endeavors are collaborative in nature.

    • Zombies: Collaborate to “synthesize” a cure.
    • Medieval: Working together to operate a trebuchet.
    • Superhero: Team up to calibrate a “power enhancer.”
    • Space: Group navigation through a cosmic “minefield.”
    • Spy: Assemble pieces of a deciphered message.
    • Nature Protectors: Collaboratively conduct a “species count.”

9. What’s next?  Seek Feedback and Iterate

After your LARP event, gather feedback from participants on the STEM elements as well as the story and interactions. Understand what worked, what didn’t, and what areas can be improved. Use this feedback to refine your approach in subsequent events.

    • Zombies: Which scientific aspects intensified the survival feeling?
    • Medieval: Were the mechanical tasks engaging and educational?
    • Superhero: Which gadgets seemed most plausible?
    • Space: Was the navigation challenge too easy or hard?
    • Spy: Was the code-breaking sequence intuitive?
    • Nature Protectors: Did the environmental science tasks feel impactful?

The above gives you a starting point for integrating STEM into your LARP.  But remember above all… make your adventure fun and engaging. Incorporate creative storytelling and believable characters that players can interact with, as well as exciting challenges. This is how your players are more likely to want to continue playing and learn more about STEM concepts.

 


 

Guardian Adventures provides consulting and a free LARP for afterschool programs, summer campsamusement & attraction industries, and more.



Live Action Role Playing, or LARP, is a fun and engaging way to immerse your campers in a world of stories and adventure. Running a LARP at your summer camp can be an exceptional program for increasing camper retention and creating a sense of community among campers.

Campers who participate in LARPing are often more invested in the camp experience, and in our experience, are more likely to return year after year. Here are some of the ways that offering a LARP program can increase camper retention:

  1. Immersive Storytelling

    LARPing provides campers with an opportunity to fully immerse themselves in a fictional world. When you create an engaging storyline and safe but exciting interactions where campers have a sense of agency, there is an increase in the camper’s desire to return year after year to see how the story evolves as well as their own role within it.

  2. Positive Peer Interaction

    LARPing requires teamwork and collaboration, which can promote positive peer interaction. This type of positive interaction can create a sense of belonging and community among your campers, many of whom may not fit the classic summer camp programming based in sports or hiking. Connecting to others who are like them can give them a sense of belonging and elevate the camp experience. These interactions can also be made more effective when the LARP you design is inclusive and accessible. When you take the time to design activities (including LARPs) to be inclusive and accessible, you will attract more campers and people of various lived experiences.

  3. Encourages Creativity and Imagination

    Campers who participate in LARPing are constantly exposed to an activity that requires creativity and imagination – in fact, it’s the common foundation of all LARPs. This can contribute to the overall development of your campers while also giving them an encouraging outlet for trying out new ideas. 

  4. Teaches Problem-Solving Skills

    LARPing requires campers to think on their feet and come up with creative solutions to problems. This type of problem-solving can be a valuable skill that your campers can transfer into other areas of their lives, while also having a positive impact on their confidence and self-esteem.

  5. Fosters a Sense of Belonging

    By participating in a shared experience, campers can feel like they are part of a group, which can be especially important for campers who may be shy or introverted. As mentioned above in #2 positive peer interactions add one-on-one connection… but when everyone in your program has a passion for the adventure and their role in it, this sense of belonging and community is greatly enhanced. 

  6. Learning

    Education is always a value-add for any summer camp program. But when education (either STEM or Social Emotional Learning) is integrated into a LARP, the learning becomes exciting and memorable. When an 8 year old needs to learn Newton’s Laws of Physics in order to cast her first level spells as a wizard, she may be inspired to seek out higher level science classes or even a career path in STEM. As well, parents consider education as a high value-add in the camp experience, especially if it can address summertime “Learning Loss”. This makes the parents or guardians (who pay the camp tuition) more likely to consider returning their child to a LARP camp.

  7. Year-Round-Engagement

    You can also run LARPs online during the off-season. Some game systems provide instructions on how to convert your LARP into an online adventure which means you can schedule a few Zoom sessions where campers can see their friends and play their character in a supplemental adventure that encourages them to sign up for the next season right away. It also helps to drop hints during these online adventures that can be useful for when they return to camp.

These are just a few of the ways that a LARP program can increase your camper retention.  Of course, most retention doesn’t just come from the kind of programs you provide… but the quality of the experiences within those programs.  Make certain that your LARP is engaging, safe, accessible, and perhaps educational, and you should notice more campers coming back to your camp year after year.

 


About:  Guardian Adventures provides free and licensed educational games, adventures, and LARP systems for summer camps, schools, and recreation organizations.



Integrating Live Action Role-Playing (LARP) into a summer camp can be an exciting and engaging way to provide campers with a unique, educational, and immersive experience. LARPing allows campers to physically embody a character and interact with others in a live setting, which can help to build problem-solving techniques, improvisational skills (thinking on your feet), and competency in teamwork.

The first step for integrating LARP into a summer camp is to decide on a theme or setting for the game. This can be based on a fictional world, historical event, or even a real-world scenario. The theme or setting you decide on will provide the foundation for the game and will help to guide the creation of the story, characters, costumes, and props.

Once the theme or setting has been decided on, the next step is to create characters for the campers to play. These characters should be well-rounded and have distinct personalities and abilities. They should also be appropriate for the setting of the game. Providing a character sheet with the character’s background and abilities can be helpful for the campers to better understand and connect with their character, as well as for remembering what their chosen skills are, and how many times they can utilize them.

In order to further the immersion of the experience, campers should be provided with (or have time and resources to make) costumes and props to help them fully embody their characters. These can be as simple or as elaborate as desired, but they should serve to amplify and support the setting of the game.

If the game style involves physical conflict scenarios with play weapons then foam swords and shields or NERF Blasters can be provided for safe interactions. Or if the conflict (which is what makes an adventure a challenge) is only verbal, what real-life or pretend skills can you provide that help the campers navigate the conflict and succeed through the practice of those skills?

The set of game rules and mechanics (how the game works) are also important. Choose a system that is not too complex, making it hard to comprehend, and not so simple as to make it limited and boring. If you are a novice at LARPing, you may choose a simple LARP system to start and then graduate to a more robust LARP system that provides more character, skill, and interaction options.

The final step is to create an interactive scenario, or “quest”, for the campers to participate in. This scenario should provide a clear goal, perhaps one that is in alignment with your camp mission, for the campers to work towards. The scene should also include challenges and obstacles that will require the campers to work together and use their characters’ abilities. Ideally, each scenario requires a diversity of skills so that each camper has the opportunity to “shine” in the moment when they use their special skill to accomplish the goal.  

The scene may also require campers to accrue their skills through the completion of projects based in STEM or other academic topics. The important thing is to make sure that the STEM is directly related to the challenge the campers are facing and not just “tacked on” as an educational lesson. These educational elements add a much higher level of value to the camp program because the campers can learn topics applicable to their studies at school.

It’s also important to have a clear safety protocol in place and to train staff and campers on safety rules before the start of the LARP event. This includes the use of safe weapons and shields, guidelines for physical contact, and even established rules of verbal conflict that keep the interactions from escalating to an “out of game” situation where the campers feel personally attacked.

In addition to the LARP event, there are opportunities to include other activities that tie into the game. This includes workshops on crafts that fit the theme such as archery or fencing lessons, historical reenactment and improv lessons, negotiation and social-emotional exercises, and other activities that will help to further immerse the campers in the LARP while also enriching their lives outside of the game. You can even run online LARPs during the non-summer camp season so as to keep your campers engaged in your camp alongside the friends they made at your camp.

Integrating LARP into a summer camp can be an exciting and engaging way to provide campers with not just an entertaining and exciting activity, but a truly enriching and educational experience. Give it a try with our free LARP game and see how quickly your campers will feel like heroes as they take on the challenge of saving the world.

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About:  Guardian Adventures provides free and licensed educational games, adventures, and LARP systems for summer camps, schools, and recreation organizations.


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