2020: Using Augmented Reality to Stimulate Students and Diffuse Escape Game Activities to Larger Audiences

In a world engaged in a perpetual race for progress, augmented reality (AR) is a new frontier that has attracted much research attention in recent years. The generalization of smartphones and the miniaturization and democratization of connected gadgets are leading to new uses and new expectations. In this article, we provide an AR application to the trending educational activity of escape games in order to diffuse AR to a large audience. As the application of an educational escape game, which is a good tool to improve the motivation and communication skills of students, requires considerable time for design, manufacturing, and operating, a numeric, mobile AR version is proposed here. For this purpose, an original paper-based version of the scenario is presented, principally turning around the Solvay process for a high school/college audience. In this scenario, the students are led to follow in the footsteps of a young Belgian physicist, Ernest Solvay. Through enigmas, participants discover a secret room containing Solvay’s secrets in Brussels. Puzzles about the periodic table of elements, the CPK color code, chemical reaction balancing, the notion of molar mass, the Solvay process, or the philanthropic conferences organized by Solvay and the many other scientists involved are used to illustrate the chemical process discovered. This scenario and the Leblanc process scenario have been adapted to an AR experience with the open application Metaverse. Unlike conventional escape game or escape lab activities, our AR escape games can be easily diffused to large audience classrooms without the presence of any teacher being required and without any systematic preparation. The advantages and limits of such tools are discussed. The feedback received from students that participated in a test exercise with the tool corroborates the increase of motivation through such activities.