An Immersive Approach to Developing STEM Innovators

What is Heist?

Heist: An Immersive Approach to Developing STEM Innovators is an interactive and creative S.T.E.A.M. experience where participants will have the opportunity to:

  • Challenge and grow their own understanding of physical and mechanical sciences, digital ecosystems, and computer engineering

  • Explore cause and effect relationships in mechanical and computer engineering processes

  • Use inquiry-based learning styles to yield evidence-based answers and solutions

  • Develop 21st Century problem solving skills to succeed in the rapidly changing technical landscape of the coming decade

  • Create a tangible record of achievement over the course of the program

  • Foster collaborative and productive relationships with their peers and mentors




Unlike other computer science and STEM programs, Heist Edition is an immersive and narrative driven learning experience. Heist implements many of the same gameplay elements found in escape room challenges, themed entertainment attractions, and virtual game scenarios.


The Approach

  • Students will build their own miniature escape room experience

  • They will use their physical scale model as a hands-on learning tool as they experiment with and apply computer programming and mechanical engineering concepts

  • They will create simple programs within a Linux-based OS to control external hardware

  • In the final five lessons, students will have the opportunity to develop and play their own immersive Heist game

Welcome to BoomTOwn


What exactly will students experience in this particular program? Some of you may have heard of Escape Rooms or Mystery Dinner Parties, or the theatrical Sleep No More in New York City. Others may be more familiar with Children’s Museums, such as the Exploratorium in San Francisco or the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Maybe you have even been lucky enough to go to the new immersive Van Gogh exhibit that is currently touring the United States.


In Heist, students will have the opportunity to engage with and explore their physical and digital surroundings as they solve puzzles together, discover clues, and attempt to accomplish goals within a set time period. Using storytelling techniques is a powerful educational tool that not only increases engagement and fosters a sense of awe and curiosity, but role playing more importantly allows students to step outside of their comfort zone and try on different types of roles, take academic and emotional risks, and explore multiple approaches to real life scenarios.

Early on in the course, students will be introduced to the fictional city of Boomtown as well as a cast of colorful characters who ultimately require the students to aid them on this epic cyber heist mission. Students will be tasked with various engineering problems where they will have to build electrical circuits or write code (Python 3 and Linux) to help advance their adventure game. They will work collaboratively and learn language, best practices, and thought processes used currently in the computer science and themed entertainment industries. Instructors will use a variety of storytelling techniques including visual illustrations, mixed media, multiple code editors, mini lessons to deliver scientific content and methodology, and peer led activities and discussions.


By the end of the course, students will have built out a portfolio that consists of their coding programs, photos of their circuits and hardware, and journal entries about their learning experience and aha moments.


It is the hope that Heist will bring to the educational space a more inclusive, accessible, and playful experience to students interested in pursuing creative avenues within the STEM fields; and at the very least, be a memorable and meaningful opportunity where they can let down their hair, roll up their sleeves, and enjoy the quirky Maker environment that Heist has to offer.