Louis Riel Grade 8 Residency

Awaken Wonder has many expressions to us at Mobile Escape. It’s the excitement of learning new things in a fun and creative way; having students learn by doing; and working through the process of building, designing and creating that develops this wonder.

When we first come into a school, and tell the students that they are building an escape room, many look at me (Jackie) with the classic “deer in the headlights” look, where they don’t have a clue what I mean, or how we’re going to make this happen. Maliha said it best:

“The first day we basically had no idea what the room would look like, but by communicating with each other and sharing ideas, we came up with brilliant ideas!”

This is where we being our journey. We start with an understanding. The understanding of what an escape room is – what critical pieces are involved in escape rooms – and then we let the students test out the ones we have created in our mobile unit.  

From there we moved to the critical brainstorming session. In this stage, all ideas relating to our Renaissance theme are valid. Even the craziest ideas can spark another idea in someone else. With ideas popping up all over the place we start creating a few options for a story line. Having the students involved with this process is critical for several reasons. The most important thing is that this is their project. This is something they will be working on for the remainder of the week, and so it is critical that they have a choice in what they are making. 

At Mobile Escape, we always mention this:

it’s not how smart you are, it’s what type of smart you are.

And this is true for our residency program. We allow the students to choose their own work to add to our project. We start by making general groups:

·      The builders

o   These are the students who don’t want to sit and plan, but do! My lego builders and creators are making things in the room. This week the builders in “Escape the Renaissance” created jail cell bars, jail furniture (toilet included) and how could we forget the unicorn statue on the streets of Venice. In the Lost library, builders were designing book shelves, sliding fireplaces and a library full of books.

·      The decoration team

o   These are the artists, having the challenge of turning a room from black curtains into either the streets of Venice, a jail cell, or a forgotten library. They are responsible to make the environment immersive, which is a key aspect of escape room design.

·      The puzzle team

o   These are the students with fine attention to details. From creating the objective of the room, to where the locks are going to be and how each code will be discovered, these private eye detectives are not only solving the problems, but creating them as well.

·      The promotion team

o   This is the crew who wants to promote our room to as many people as possible. They create posters, ask to speak on the school’s morning announcements, create photo booths, and entertainment for the guests as they wait in line for the escape room. They are also the ones who will run the room on showcase night.

·      The technology team

o   This crew is in charge of all the video and sound effects for the room. From eerie sound effects, to a welcoming video, these advanced technological students enhance the room to its full potential.

You will see within each group there are several smaller projects that come into play. Each participant has the opportunity to learn and grow, and the results are extraordinary.

One of the teachers asked the students what they learned during our 5 days of building, and what they said sent shivers down my spine. On their own, the students came up with a list of 80 different skills they learned through this experience. Although the outcome of a working, functional room is the objective, we cannot forget about the process. It was through the process where these students learned all these skills.

Decision making, teamwork, quick thinking, ability, strength, planning, sympathy, empathy, talents, cooperation, mental flexibility, acceptance, patience, communication…

It was so rewarding for me to see all the growth that happened this week in these students, and the growth in myself. For me, this week really reaffirmed the magic I get to create within each of the students. For each student to find something that they are good at, to be able to try something new, work through the failures and learn to push through to the end is magic that not everyone gets to see.

Thank you Louis Riel Grade 8 students and teachers for a magical week!