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 camps, amusement & attraction industries, and more.