The New Reality @theEC

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This post was originally written for and featured on the Penn Libraries TRL Blog.

Welcome to the New Reality, folks! On Friday, September 28, the Education Commons (EC), as part of TRL’s PennImmersive initiative to explore all things innovative tech and gadgetry, hosted a space adventure for the Penn community. Upon arrival, attendees received their EC passports and were tasked with completing four hands-on emerging tech challenges, including a Makey Makey maze; a choice of 3D printing, scanning, and drawing activities; an AR scavenger hunt; and a VR experience.

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EC Passport Detail

The Makey Makey maze tested voyagers on their dexterity and ability to work as a team.  Makey Makey is described as an invention kit that includes a small circuit board, USB cable, and wires and is used to connect real-world, conductive objects to computers. Our maze champion clocked in under four seconds and won a 3D-printed phone speaker!

Makey Makey maze (1)

The Makey Makey team thought our maze was pretty amazing, too and declared it their October Community challenge. Make your own with these directions and share on Twitter with the hashtag #makeymakeychallenge. Don’t have a Makey Makey? The EC lends them for 3-day periods!

In the EC’s new Makerspace, the 3D challenge included options to print a 3D bookmark, draw with 3D pens (you can check these out, too!), and scan objects with our 3D scanner.


For the AR challenge, EC staff and student workers created a variety of experiences with Zappar, an augmented reality tool that works with a free iOS and Android app. Voyagers were asked to interact with 5 zaps of their choice. Download the app and try it out for yourself by scanning the zap code in the images below!

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Created by our student worker Meri!

Our last challenge entailed a choice of two VR games using Oculus Go, a virtual reality headset. Voyagers were able to step into the shoes of astronauts to float in space 250 miles above the Earth with BBC’s Spacewalk and/or immerse themselves in the science fiction universe of GUNJACK to defend a mining platform from enemy ships.

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The EC will also soon be lending two Oculus Gos!


To fortify our weary travelers, we, of course, provided pizza, moon pies, and Milky Ways. Other diversions were also available in the form of Daft Punk and Galaxy Quest.

After our voyagers completed all four challenges and emerged victorious, they were able to choose from a variety of 3D print ultimate prizes, including articulated dinosaurs, bracelets, Pokemon, tops, and more!

Thank you to all who helped us pull off this awesome event! If you are interested in learning more about these types of technologies and spaces at the EC, please reach out to us! We are always looking for opportunities to collaborate in teaching and learning contexts.

Also, keep an eye out for future events and workshops at the EC. This fall, we will be holding several workshops in our Makerspace and also are debuting our Women in Sci-fi Movie Series. We are showing the 1986 classic-Sigourney Weaver-goodness Aliens next week on Wednesday, October 17th. Popcorn starts at 4pm!