Derby IOP Mystery Trail

3 August 2016

On the 19th of May, the streets of Derby City Centre played host to small groups of physicists eagerly searching for clues and answers as they made their way around corners and over bridges following the Derby IOP Mystery Trail, a treasure trail that I had developed especially for the event. The premise of the trail was that someone had stolen a piece of team’s research and the teams were given a list of names that matched up with clues found around Derby.

Beginning at the Standing Order, groups set off, each with a trail booklet between them, to find signs, memorials or street art that matched one of the names in the booklet, which they would cross off eventually leaving only one suspect. To ensure that people had some time to think and relax, standalone puzzles were conveniently located along the trail next to popular watering holes, where the weary and possibly perplexed physicists could put their feet up for a few minutes and ponder.

I had initially been worried about rain at the start of the trail but thankfully the bad weather, that had been present earlier in the day, held off and people were allowed to puzzle in peace. Though there were some initial false starts everyone soon picked up speed in both their walking and their solving. I found the whole experience hugely rewarding, not only to see people enjoy the trail that I had spent time working on, but I was also pleased to see the perplexed looks on the faces of some of the attendees, many of whom I knew were tremendously smart. When choosing puzzles for the route, I had tried to vary them as much as possible to include number, shape and word puzzles, to keep everyone on their toes.

Finally, once all of the groups had come full circle and made it back to the Standing Order, everyone’s name along with their solutions to the trail were placed in a hat. Then three winners were drawn, to win three separate prizes. It was clear that the event had been a great success and everyone had enjoyed themselves while flexing their mental muscles.