Ever heard of the “escape room?” Our very own Fletcher faculty participated in a team building activity a year or so ago by visiting Exit Strategy, the country’s largest escape room location, right here in Charlotte. According to Wikipedia, “an escape room is a physical adventure game in which players are locked in a room and have to use elements of the room to solve a series of puzzles and escape within a set time limit.” It is a fun way to work collaboratively, while using critical thinking skills to solve problems, and ultimately, escape from the room!
The smart creators of BreakoutEDU decided to bring the idea of the escape room into the educational world by creating curriculum related breakout challenges! They thought, why not allow our students to get out of their seats, work together to solve puzzles, all while learning about key themes related to their areas of study. Brilliant! Here is a great clip describing how BreakoutEDU works and why it is a great addition to any school setting.
This past summer, I had the opportunity to attend the ISTE conference in Denver, CO with a group of Fletcher teachers. The creators of BreakoutEDU positioned a school bus in front of the conference center, to introduce educators to the idea. The school bus had been redesigned as an escape bus! Working with a small group of educators (I only knew one of them), we uncovered various clues, such as a hidden key in a beaker full of colored liquid and magic letters on a map, exposed only with a special UV flashlight. We had a guide in the session with us and we were able to get up to two hints from her, if we got stuck. We had to get a few hints and we relied on a high school student to help us with many of the challenges – This challenge was right up his alley! We ended up breaking out of the bus in 14 minutes and 57 seconds and then proceeded to our photo op station.
I knew that our students would LOVE the opportunity to try something like this, so I purchased a special BreakoutEDU box for our school. The box came with a hasp, combination locks, key locks, pencil lock boxes, a disappearing ink pen, UV flashlight and blank hint cards. I also found a huge following for this idea on a BreakoutEDU Facebook group and on BreakoutEDU.com. On this site, teachers can find tons of games that have been designed by educators around the country. The games include helpful resources, such as lesson plans, video clips, printable game materials, combinations and so much more. Several of the games even include video tutorials so that teachers can set up the game exactly right in their own classrooms. All of the games include an age group suggestion and a direct link to subject area content – math, science, social studies, language arts and more are represented!
Stephanie Sanders, a fifth grade teacher at Fletcher, was planning to introduce her students to the book, Pax by Sara Pennypacker, when she stumbled across the BreakoutEDU idea. Thankfully, a teacher had already designed a BreakoutEDU challenge for the book and Stephanie decided to put the book in the box, locked with key locks and combination locks, that could only be unlocked by solving the related challenges. The students worked together to solve the challenges, breaking into the locks and retrieving the book from the box. The students used Google searches to find answers to some of the questions, which were needed to determine combinations. What a fun way to begin a new novel in the classroom! The kids loved it!
Mrs. Poe used the box last week and set up a Minecraft challenge for her elective class and computer fun club. Again, the students worked together to break into the box and one student asked, “When can we do this again?”
We can’t wait to see what other BreakoutEDU challenges await for our students!