Beyond IQ

Puzzlecraft: Creating a Puzzle Hunt

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Instructor: Lisa Fontaine-Rainen
5-10 students
Suggested Age Ranges: 11+ years old
Meets: Thursdays at 5:30 pm Eastern Time


Do you love Escape Rooms?  Do you wish you were at MIT each January to join the MIT Mystery Hunt? (  Do you love to share your intense interests with others and are intrigued by the idea of crafting a puzzle from your passion?  This is the space we get to do all of that – puzzling, creating, and tying together all our passions into one incredible GHF Puzzle Hunt! 

Puzzle Hunts are made from a set of puzzles that give an answer upon being completed – usually a word or phrase.  Those answers work together in a meta-puzzle that gives a single final answer.  (Or, in more complex hunts, the meta puzzles work together towards a meta-meta puzzle.  Or… yes, it can get complex!)

By the end of the course, students will have collaborated in making and playtesting our own Puzzle Hunt using techniques for puzzle creation that we will play with throughout the course.

Syllabus is subject to change based on progress through puzzle creation and Puzzle Hunt progress.  Students are highly encouraged to explore puzzle hunts and propose changes to our syllabus based on kinds of puzzles they want to explore more deeply. 

Every day will include some collaborative puzzling and puzzle creation.  Homework assignments will be entirely doing and crafting puzzles, and will be important for making the class work.  Expect at least an hour of puzzling and crafting a week outside of class.  Students will be able to stretch that to many more if they so choose.

For more information and example of Puzzle Hunts, look at:


   - If you look in the archives, the 2006 Mystery Hunt was my introduction to Puzzle Hunts and I still think it was a good hunt! 

   - there’s a sampler puzzle at the bottom that you can work on (as a family, if you like!) to give you a sense of how to do a puzzle hunt.  This is what we’ll be shooting for. 

In Puzzlecraft, we focus on the crafting process.  For those who would rather solve but not craft, we also offer Puzzle Masters.  It is highly recommended that students take Puzzle Masters before taking Puzzlecraft – if you think you might be ready but haven’t taken the class, please reach out to us about it.  We will all have access to a specific issue of P&A Magazine as well – but collaborative solving of this will mostly not be part of our class time.


Day 1: Course introduction.  Discussion and sharing of favorite puzzles.  Discussion of issues in crafting puzzles and approaches that help.  Sharing of passions, brainstorming ways to make them into puzzles.

Day 2:  In-depth look at puzzle hunts and beginning to work on one.  Clue extraction – crafting a simple puzzle with an extractable clue. The importance of flavor text. 

Day 3:  Beginning to plan our hunt – overall theme and meta-puzzle work. 

Day 4: An overview of many key puzzle types.  Planning out possible puzzles for our hunt.

Day 5: Inventing new puzzle types.  Planning out possible new puzzles for our hunt.

Day 6: The importance of playtesting.  Collaborative puzzlecrafting.

Day 7: Finalizing our work on the Hunt. 

Day 8: Presentation of Puzzle hunt – inviting others to come puzzle with us!

Register here for Puzzlecraft!
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