How did all of the hidden letters and numbers point to Folsom, Louisiana? What were the hidden clues, and what did they mean?
If the Spring 2016 treasure hunt had a theme, it was definitely CLASSIC LITERATURE. Six types of clues tied the theme together and marked the path toward the meadow near New Orleans: number clusters, letter groupings, confirming pictures, hidden years, red letters, and the master riddle. Here’s how they all worked together:
The first episode of each week of Brain Chase began with a riddle, and certain letters of each riddle were highlighted in red. As the other letters disappeared, the red letters remained, with each set of letters spelling a word that would prove a vital hint toward solving the treasure hunt: Riddle, Quotes, Chapter, Paragraph, Word, and Shakespeare. More on these words later…
Each Brain Chase animation contained several strings of encoded numbers. These numbers, when strung together and translated into letters using the Brain Chase decoder rings, spelled out phrases. As the second week’s “red letter” clue hinted, these sayings were actually famous quotes from historical figures – in this case, characters from prominent works of English literature.
In case there was any ambiguity around which book belonged to each quote, tiny symbols were hidden in each episode to confirm the title. These images were carefully selected to depict prominent visual images from each work. In one episode, for instance, hidden images of a shipwreck, cracked eggs, and a man tied down to the ground offered confirmation that the quote was alluding to Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift.
Each Brain Chase episode contained a single book with a year written on the spine. These clues were critical to finding the correct online version of each book title. Remember the Bonus Challenge in the Warm-up Week when students were directed to certain titles in Google Books? That challenge was designed to quickly familiarize students with the Google Books platform and its different options. Once we know the name of the book and the year of its publication, we can find the exact text doing a quick search in Google Books.
This is where the letter groupings come into play. Hidden clusters of letters divided by slashes, when translated with the decoder ring received in the mail, reveal groups of numbers. The key to understanding these numbers lies in three of the “red letter” clues from the introduction riddles: chapter, paragraph, and word. Each cluster leads to a specific word in the text associated with that episode. For instance, in the 1917 version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the 6th word of the 1st paragraph of chapter 13 is “globe.”
As the first “red letter” clue implies, the animations are hiding a master riddle that points directly to the treasure. By working through each episode and jotting down the words indicated by the letter groupings, we can assemble the master riddle for the chase:
Putting it All Together
The last word in the rhyme, “chase,” is found in chapter 5, paragraph 7, word 29 of the 1921 edition of the Last of the Mohicans. Multiplying the chapter (5) by 922 gives us 4610, and multiplying the word’s place in its passage (29) by 10.01 gives us 290.29. We know we need to travel 290.29 degrees, and 4610 units of distance. But from where? Or what?
A “world-famous theater” starts off the chase. The theme is English literature after all, and what better way to pull it all together than with a nod to the bard himself? The final red letter clue is “Shakespeare,” and his theater is coincidentally named “The Globe Theater.” And lest there be any question, the map coordinates hiding in the animations near the hedge maze point to the Tate Museum, a building directly adjacent to the Globe Theater in London. That’s the starting point.
Time to open up Google Earth. Travelling 4,610 miles in a direction of 290.29 degrees from the Globe Theater in London lands you in a grassy area just north of New Orleans.
Using kilometers, arc seconds, or other measurements in Google Earth doesn’t get us anywhere near a meadow, so we know miles are the correct measurement.
Congratulations to Briggs and the Dommert family from Atlanta. What about you? Were you close? Register today for an upcoming chase, and next time it may be you taking home the treasure!
Yours in Adventure,
Dad and Co-Founder
Team Brain Chase