Making Mystery Boxes

I’m helping Primary Twos in my village with a ‘QR Safari’ and the project I’m about to show you is designed to help them form a concept of what the QR Code does.

But what is a QR Safari..? QR Safaris are all about experiencing digital content ‘in the environment’ that inspired its creation. The children have been collecting interesting historical facts about old Balmullo and while one option may have been to gather the information into a book or a poster, the Safari allows the audience to experience the content ‘on the spot’ where it can have more resonance. QR codes are perfect for Safaris because a QR Code is a call to action – “scan me now!”

There is also the mystery element. Who knows what’s contained within the QR Code! It’s important to give your audience want a good experience. If they scan a code simply to find a Facebook page that they could have looked at at home then they won’t be motivated into scanning your other codes. However, if the content is relevant to the environment, a picture of how the street looked 100 years ago for example, then they’ll come back eager to explore the rest of the Safari!

QReativity (Kree-ay-tivity) is what it’s all about…

For the children I characterised QR Codes as containers. The metaphor of a mystery box definitely struck a chord. They were very open to the concept of ‘mystery’ and got very excited about my own Mystery Box that contained very secret QR Codes (see previous post). They eagerly supplied us with a picture of an item personal to them (see the lego plane below) to be tagged to their box. Remember, we are not interested in putting physical objects in the physical box, we are putting digital objects inside the digital box, the QR Code. The children decorated their boxes with clues as to what we might find behind the QR Code… the scanning process then takes the form of a game.

I supplied the children with a box template, complete with Mystery Box logos and a unique QR Code, reproduced on two sides of the box just in case some over eager colouring rendered one useless.

The personal Mystery Box was useful to introduce them to QR Codes but also as a memento of the project. The ‘QR Safari’ is a virtual product and difficult for them to explain to their parents – I felt it was important that I provide them with something they could take home and maybe even demonstrate.

And so we have here a selection of completed boxes and an example of their contents. I’m not sure how long the box will last once it gets home but hopefully next time they see a QR code in the street, or in a magazine, they’ll be asking mom or dad to ‘act’… I can’t wait till we can be scanning our own codes!

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