5 Reasons to bring Escape room Problem solving into the classroom
A day was picked, babysitters were arranged, but we still weren’t sure what we should actually go do. We wanted something different that would keep our attention, especially given our newfound ability to fall asleep at any moment due to our recent bouts with sleep deprivation. What started as a silly idea became our plan...we would take on an escape room...followed by dinner, some drinks, etc.
The escape room is something I’ve been wanting to try, as I’ve been looking at ways to bring the idea into the classroom with content weaved throughout the activity. Our experience was fun and not as “dark” as we imagined it might be. Our scenario was to rescue Santa who was stolen by The Grinch 10 days before Christmas. The puzzles and tasks were fun, challenging, made us think, and forced us work together. We did save Santa and made it out with 4 minutes to spare. Mission accomplished!
So how will this translate to the classroom? If BreakoutEdu’s rise in popularity is any indicator, very well. Tasks to retrieve keys, lock combinations, or word combinations can be aligned to specific content area clues and questions. If you aren’t looking to tie in curricular content, the activity could be used as a problem solving/critical thinking and teamwork task. If a teacher has the ability to set up an entire room with tasks scattered about, that is one direction you could go. With space and time always being an issue, teachers can size down the task by having students trying to "break open" a box of some sort that is sealed with a series of locks.
1. Teambuilding - Teamwork
Many of these tasks are impossible to accomplish without working together. Often, clues might need to be relayed from across the room to lock breakers, or tasks my require the involvement of several group members to complete. In my personal experience, even if you were reluctant, you found yourself forced into collaborative efforts without ever thinking about it.
2. Content Tie-In
Clues and tasks that lead to lock codes, passwords, and keys can be created to focus on any content area. From themed math problems that lead to number combinations to sequences of social studies clues that lead to letters forming a word code, the possibilities are limited by our educational imagination.
3. Problem-Solving and Critical Thinking
Along with teamwork, problem-solving is one of the greatest benefits to the “escape” framework. It is a non-stop thinking process that doesn’t allow for students to “turn it off” at any point. In our escape we found ourselves constantly trying to connect the dots and explore all of our knowledge base to determine the next clue.
As you might imagine, most students will find this as an engaging activity. With the constant stimulation of this generation of students, using relevant and engaging activities becomes a must to keep them on-task and working hard. Teachers can even “go into character” to set the scene and the theme for students, further bringing them into this “escape” world. The more into it you are, the more they will be.
One of the benefits I did not think of until I took part in the escape room myself was task-persistence. We were constantly forced to problem-solve, apply, revise, fail, repeat. For some locks we tried up to ten codes before we determined the correct one. This format forces students away from the idea of “I failed” or “I got it wrong”, into the mental framework of “let’s think about this again” and “let’s try this over”. It forces students to iterate their problem solving process on a constant basis.
So where do we start? I have began by collecting locks that will be needed for the activity.
- 3 and 4 digit number locks (black and green)
- Keyed locks (gold)
- Word locks (black)
- Hasp (red)
- Standard combination lock (purple)
- UV flashlight
- Invisible pen (not pictured)
- Lockable box or container (not pictured)
comment on mine.
I do think it's cheaper to piece together your own materials, and more relevant when you create your own "game", but be sure to check out BreakoutEdu for pre-made supply bundles and classroom implementation ideas.
Lets "escape" into education. Happy problem solving!