SJAM's Math Escape Room Residency

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Math can tell a story...

I (Adam) am going to start by saying that I like math. Many of you reading may think that I am a little strange for saying that and probably cannot relate. A lot of people have told me math is hard to understand or they cannot see how they are going to use the concepts that they are learning. Let me do something that I love to do and imbed some math concepts into a bit of a made-up story:

Imagine that you and 2 friends have just completed the most epic of adventures and have decided to celebrate by ordering a pizza.  Picture this is not an ordinary pizza, this is a one-in-a-million pizza. This is one of your favourite types of pizzas from your favourite pizza spots. The 3 of you plot the fastest route on the map, calculating the distance and time it will take you travelling at the pace of a very brisk walk. Finally, after your much-deserved wait, you arrive back home. You and your friends smell the wonderful aroma, wonder the probability that it will be as great as last time, and open up the box to discover 8 pieces of pizza staring back at you. Doing some mental math, you quickly discover that one of the 3 of you will be short-changed on pizza. How can this be easily remedied? You think back on circle geometry…

Many of you may now try doing more math to cut up the wonderful pizza into a number of slices that can be split easily between 3 people, but I have a better idea. This is a story remember, so why not make it a bit more interesting. To continue from above:

Before you do any calculations on angles, you remember what you have stored away in your living room posing as the coffee table. This item just fit perfectly there. It has the same dimensions and surface area. Introducing your time machine! You lead your friends away from the pizza and introduce them to this amazing machine. They help you clear off the magazines and you tell them to stand back at least 1.2 metres. You now have enough room and start-up the time machine using the pull-cord on the go-kart method. After a couple of pulls (these never work on the first try) the time machine kicks into gear. With the machine being calibrated in seconds, you quickly calculate how long it was to go back to before your amazing adventure, enter the number into the dial and POOF! You go back in time and invite a fourth friend on your epic adventure because it is better to share something cool with more people. This time, you decide to order 2 pizzas…

Stories, thinking outside the classroom, student ideas, hard work, and sharing experiences with each other all can make something seen as boring or irrelevant for most people, such as math, way more interesting. Now, let’s imbed Math into something a little more relevant:

My first day on the job with Mobile Escape also just so happened to be the first day of the Sir John A. MacDonald residency. This was no ordinary residency. This residency involved the entire school: 3 grades, 647 students, and 10 days to complete three separate MATH escape rooms. The students did the majority of the work. First experiencing an escape room, then conceptualizing their own rooms, designing the clues based off of their math curriculums, building the final products and finally sharing the creations with their friends and families. This experience turned out to be something special, where math took the forefront at the school. I like to use the term #awakenwonder to explain what happened over those ten days. It is quite a story, best not told by me, but from the perspective of the students and teachers themselves… stay tuned for a video update!