The Mystery Hunt is MIT's largest annual puzzle solving competition. Held during IAP, the Mystery Hunt combines hundreds of online puzzles with on-campus events to which teams send representatives to get clues. Puzzles are grouped so that the solutions form new puzzles (metas), with several metas per level. The puzzles eventually reveal the location of a coin hidden on campus, and the first team to find the coin is declared the winner.
The Mystery Hunt begins with a Friday kickoff event held in Lobby 7, where the organizers reveal the theme of the hunt and an initial puzzle. Teams disperse to their headquarters (classroom or dorm floor) to access the puzzles online and start solving. Answers are submitted electronically and usually consist of a single word, but may require teams to do such tasks as create a short video.
The hunt lasts until the coin is found, usually after two or three days. If the coin is found early, teams are encouraged to keep working on the puzzles for second, third, fourth place...etc. Soon after, all puzzles and solutions are released and a wrap-up meeting is held. The winning team is responsible for writing and running the next year's hunt.