Learning Undefeated Brings Escape Room to The Inn

STEM-focused non-profit partnering with The Inn for a fun and engaging activity

Recently, The Children’s Inn at NIH began partnering with Learning Undefeated, a nonprofit based in Maryland that has been providing innovative and effective STEM education for middle and high school students since 1997. Earlier this month, one of Learning Undefeated’s mobile Drop Anywhere Labs was set up in The Inn’s parking lot, and for the first time, families had the opportunity to take part in an interactive escape room activity designed to teach students about nutrition, human biology, and teamwork in an exciting way.

A total of 53 participants immersed themselves in the unique experience, according to Cristian Lemus, Family Program Coordinator in Education for The Inn. “This was a lot of fun for our families,” he added. “We’re so glad that they enjoyed themselves, and we are excited about continuing the partnership with Learning Undefeated moving forward.”

Participants entered the lab and were greeted by Sebastian, a Learning Unlimited employee who provided an introduction to the challenge. Each team then had 30 minutes to “escape,” solving riddles and unlocking codes to work their way towards the goal. The activities were focused on helping challengers understand the impact of diabetes on the human body and the best ways to avoid it through a healthy diet and exercise plan.

“Our mission is really to drive race and gender equity in STEM,” said Brian Gaines, the CEO of Learning Undefeated. Gaines was on hand at The Inn for the first day of action in the escape room lab. “It’s about getting students who don’t really have the opportunity to do cool STEM activities to do it. They’re typically working in a group, so they’re learning teamwork, critical thinking, and problem-solving. Skills they would need in the real world. The goal is to make learning fun, something they wouldn’t get sitting in a typical classroom.”

Learning Undefeated offers programs geared toward students in kindergarten through high school. Based in Gaithersburg, it offers programs across the United States but still calls Montgomery County home. The lab at The Children’s Inn was geared towards middle school students, but it offered entry points and challenges for participants of all ages.

Adrian loved the escape room so much that he completed it three times!

The escape room was brought to The Inn by AFCEA Bethesda, which funded the experience. Originally, the partnership between The Inn and Learning Undefeated was facilitated by Leidos, particularly Chief of Staff, Civilian Health Solutions Jessica Smith. She was able to come to The Inn to try to escape the room herself, getting help from families at The Inn.

After several virtual activities for the families, the escape room was Learning Undefeated’s first in-person experience at The Children’s Inn. Both Giles and Lemus say they are looking forward to continuing the partnership with more hands-on activities in the near future.