“Swipe Right for Science” Online Treasure Hunt WIP

1.1   Description

The event is an online treasure hunt held over Zoom: Participants join a Zoom meeting where a host (one of the organisers) will welcome the group and play a video introducing the storyline and the “hook” or reason for completing the puzzle. The group of participants will then be randomly divided into breakout rooms, these will be the teams for the treasure hunt, the people in each team will work together to try to complete all the puzzles first. Each team will be accompanied by a facilitator, who will ensure the hunt runs smoothly explaining any puzzles or additional material and will provide hints if the team is struggling, this will be done by the facilitator sharing their screen with the rest of the team. At the end, after ~1 hour, all of the teams are brought back to the main room, where winners are announced and the finale video is played and the overarching story is resolved. Each puzzle is STEM-based, with interesting facts unlocked after each puzzle is completed, all based around a central theme of communication within nature.


1.2   Objective

The aim of the event is to engage younger people with STEM subjects and to generate interest within the field. This is accomplished through interactive learning in a game-type format and using humour to tell a story.


1.3   Structure

General Structure: Single Event

This is a single event that takes place online during a weekend and lasts approximately 1 hour in total. All participants will be welcomed together, and then split up into teams to complete the treasure hunt with the help of a facilitator who guides the team through the puzzles. Whichever team finishes the puzzles first is the winner.


1.4   Duration

Main Event Duration: 1 Hour
Project Duration: Several Weeks / Several Months / Indefinitely Repeated

The main event duration is one hour. But organising the event will take several months.

2.1    Staff & Volunteers

Volunteer Requirements: Volunteer Requirements: Core organising team only.

Due to the nature of online events, only a small team is required. This may be divided into a group who are organising the event, and those who are facilitating and performing in any videos needed for the hunt, but these people could be one and the same. Volunteers could be recruited for running future events if required. You would need to ensure they are familiar with the quizzes have technical knowledge of the online platform.


2.2    Venue Hire

Venue: Online
Capacity: depends on your online platform, but the event can be scaled up or down.

The venue is indoors. For example the assembly hall. The venue should be big enough to house the fair and it should have a rostrum for the panel discussion.


2.3    Partner Institutions

Partner Institutions: Not Required

A partner institute is not required, but may be helpful for research purposes for science-based puzzles and for marketing the event


2.4    Budget

Yearly / Project Budget: 0€ – 500€

Needs no funds so long as the organising team are working pro bono. Eventbrite registration is free, Zoom membership is also free for meetings that involve two people. There is a 40-minutes time limit for meetings with three or more attendees hosted by users with free access. To host the event for longer, a membership upgrade of $14.99/month/license is required. If you are filming videos for your puzzles you may need to consider location costs and some additional costs for production. But this can be done in-house if necessary.

3.1   Target Audience

Target Audience: Primary School (5–11) / Secondary School (12–17) / Youths (18–25) / Younger Adults (26–45) / Older Adults (46–64) / Pensioners (65+)

Although this event structure was originally planned for 16-19-year-olds, these events can easily be adapted for other age ranges and family groups. In fact, by restricting your audience you can run the risk of limiting the participants you will recruit for a treasure hunt event.


3.2   Marketing

Social media campaigns are the best ways of marketing an online event in general. An effective facebook campaign and some targeted advertising/boosting would greatly increase the reach of an event such as this. The creation of promotional material would be necessary to help market the event online.


3.3   Dialogic Strategy

We recommend that all videos have subtitles to increase the level of accessibility for these activities. When telling your science story avoid using too much jargon and get external people to check your puzzles to ensure that your explanations are sufficient and that the puzzles make sense.

4.1   Project Timeline

Before anything, you will need to decide on a theme or a subject that your treasure hunt can be based upon. When this is decided you can start moving forward to design the puzzles and story.

You will need to set up a registration form and decide on how you wish to host your online game, this may involve purchasing a subscription to an online video chat service.

After this has been done, you should start marketing the event as early as possible. Use the story and theme behind the treasure hunt as a hook and incorporate this into the marketing material. It is recommended to start marketing at least one month prior to the event.

All videos, puzzles, and content should be completed two weeks before the event, and then beta tested the week before. This gives time to incorporate any feedback into the content of the event before the event itself runs. These puzzles can be created using a number of online platforms, or hosted remotely and shown by sharing the screen of a facilitator.

Set up your online conference meeting and share any links or documents that are required with those who have registered, before the start of the event.


4.2   Single Event Structure

You need someone to act as a master of ceremonies, who will welcome participants and guide the event. In addition, you will need a facilitator for each breakout room to lead a team. These facilitators should be familiar with the technical aspects of the event and be familiar with the chosen platform, they will need to share their screen with the puzzles detailed on it. We recommend using zoom as you can then use the annotate feature so each participant can draw or add notes on the puzzles if necessary, and the team can chat with each other and try to find the solution to the puzzle. The facilitator will then move the team onto the next puzzle and so on until the end. If a team finishes very quickly, the host should have some spare puzzles to try out until ten minutes before the end of the event, at which point the breakout rooms end and then everyone returns to the main room for the MC to congratulate the winners and play the final video.


4.3 Personnel roles

Main organiser:
One dress rehearsal prior to the event means everyone is required to go online one hour before the start. You need a person to run the event and enough facilitators for the number of teams you have for this event. You may also want to have a technical manager who is running the break out rooms etc.


4.4   Materials

Participants need access to computers/smart devices as well as a stable internet connection.


4.5   Other Logistics



4.6   Useful material

Here are some resources which could be used for a online treasure hunt. Please read the “README” file before using any of this material


This event increases young people’s engagement with STEM subjects by recontextualizing learning in a fun orientated way. By using the format of a game, learning becomes interactive and you can integrate problem-solving with learning about a topic. The audience should feel empowered by the successful solving of the puzzles, guided by our hosts. It is our hope that empowering learners will lead the audience to view STEM subjects in a more accessible light, and perhaps encourage them to consider careers in STEM areas in the future, even if they previously thought the area too difficult or advanced for them, from a purely academic viewpoint.

It is important to run a beta test one week before the event and to get your testers to fill in an evaluation Google form about the puzzles. Then when you are running the event proper, get participants to fill in another evaluation form ideally before and after for the best comparison. However, event evaluation can be done in less formal fashions, by asking questions verbally about the participants experience and what they have gotten out of the event.

Download as PDF


Chris Styles
Author, Editor

Cite this Activity

Styles, C. (2021, May 11). “Swipe Right for Science” Online Treasure Hunt. Retrieved from http://steamexperiments.com/activity/swipe-right-for-science/

First published: May 11, 2021
Last modified: May 23, 2021

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