VCU Engineering STARS program partners with Alteryx and Bank of America to host virtual escape room and designer training

Student participating in a virtual escape room challenge with the help of an instructor

Making science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities fun for middle and high school students is the key to igniting their passion for future STEM pursuits.

Recently, VCU Engineering, Alteryx and Bank of America teamed up to pave the way for approximately 45 high school students to take part in a virtual escape room as a part of the Supporting Tech Achievement for Richmond Students (STARS) Summer Challenge, which is a two-week summer camp funded by Bank of America that strives to expose high school students to data science techniques, tools, and algorithms through solving real world problems that affect the Richmond region. This specific event within the program held at VCU, was designed by Alteryx and gave students the opportunity to learn about data science in an immersive, unique and fun setting.

"When Bank of America connected me with Alteryx, I was immediately excited about the possibility of bringing real-world data analytics tools to the students in the STARS program,” said Jenilee Stanley-Shanks, director of outreach, diversity and inclusion at VCU Engineering. “These kinds of experiences are a fun way to take STEM skills out of the classroom and into a robust problem-solving environment. We are giving the STARS Summer Challenge participants the chance to grow their data analytics expertise beyond what is usually available to a high school student."

The Alteryx representative who ran the event, Bhumika Patel, described the theme of the escape room:

“Your team is at the big F1 grand prix race. There is just one problem – your team’s race car has been stolen. You have to use Alteryx Designer and analytics to find the racecar before the grand prix starts. The game itself has four rooms that the students must pass through before finding the stolen race car.”

With their mission identified, the students were divided into teams and given three hours to maneuver through each room, solving each puzzle utilizing their knowledge of data analytics and teamwork. Volunteers from the Richmond, VA Alteryx user group were present at the event, acting as ‘pit crew’ members for students in need of assistance.

“Through the exhilarating Alteryx Escape Room experience, along with some fun competition, we aim to transform data science education into an unforgettable adventure. By making STEM engaging and fun, we open doors for students to ignite their curiosity and inspire them to explore the limitless possibilities of a future in data analytics,” said Patel.

Alteryx SparkED, who was integral in crafting this student experience, has worked with 1,000+ schools, providing free data analytics education to over 150,000 learners worldwide. Thanks to both Alteryx and Bank of America for supporting STEM education and making events like these possible.