field trip

Fish Creek School Escape Room Residency

The First week of February brought a new adventure to Grade 6 students at Fish Creek School as three Grade 6 classes challenged themselves to build three escape rooms. For us at Mobile Escape we were filled with excitement as two of the classes reimagined two of our past escape rooms Vanishing Villains and Forensic Frenzy. 

We began our week blueprinting with each class, getting all their ideas onto paper and working with the students to pick which clues and pieces were going to be built and solved to create their own epic escape room. This process can sometimes be tough but the students all committed to listening to each other and being diplomatic as ideas were discussed and decided on. The rest of the week, teams were created and students began to divide and conquer each element that needed to be planned and built.

The Class bringing Forensic Frenzy to life rose to the occasion using ideas from past escape rooms and what they had been learning in their Evidence and Investigation unit. The clue team created hidden messages using morse code and hiding evidence in safes, briefcases, and an amazing handmade filling cabinet that the builders created. Our décor team created posters and a full size periodic table to make their space feel like a lab. Students even traced each other in tape on the floor to create a chalk-body-outline look.

Vanishing Villain’s featured a handmade chandelier and bookcase that was also a hidden door for them to escape out of. There was also a Puzzle clue that once they found all of the pieces revealed a message in black light.

F.A.M. (Famous Art Museum) featured a full video intro and we were amazed at all of the art the students created to bring a museum to life.

At the end of our residency week, people filled the halls as they lined up to experience the escape rooms. We had many escapes as parents and guardians tested all the clues and experienced everything the students had created. The most exciting part for us was standing with the students as they took over and led guests through the rooms.

Their pride and excitement showing off what they created was contagious!

 

Battalion Park's Escape Room Residency

It was a wonder-filled week of “space exploration” for two grade 6 classes at Battalion Park school!

On Monday the students began the week by completing three escape challenges designed and built by Mobile Escape as well as experimenting with creating their own codes and puzzles.

Tuesday through Thursday the students became the makers! The grade 6 Sky Science curriculum was the focus for these students as they created clues riddles and puzzles that made up their escape rooms (Area 51 and Mission Control) as they demonstrated their understanding of the unit. From navigating constellations and stars to find codes, to understanding lunar cycles and the order of planets; the students created an interactive experience for their peers to solve.

On Tuesday the students began exploring the theme and story of their room in order to brainstorm the various clues they could create based on their Sky Science knowledge. A variety of physical puzzles and mind bending riddles began to shape the rooms.

Wednesday was filled with building! Out comes the cardboard, tinfoil, buttons and other materials necessary for creating space-themed escape rooms. The stars were the limit as these imaginative and creative students turned simple cardboard boxes in to flight simulators, control panels, jet packs, and rocket ships!

Thursday morning consisted of putting finishing touches on the two rooms along with testing it to make sure that everything worked the way the students imagined. Adjustments were made and props were fixed before the final showcase. That afternoon all the students from grades 4 and 5 had a chance to come see, and experience all the learning that took place for the grade 6 students over the week. The pride on the faces and in the body language of the students in Ms. Zietz' and Mrs. Moir's grade 6 students was priceless as they operated their very own escape rooms.

Here are some thoughts about the residency shared with us from the teaching staff at Battalion Park:

"We have worked all year long to support the students in being able to work together effectively to solve problems and this experience was awesome as it highlighted all the skills and strategies we have been building! [The Mobile Escape] program allows for so much voice and choice from the students. That makes it a very meaningful experience for them. It is an exciting topic but [Mobile Escape's] program really brings out the problem solving and teamwork skills of the students!"

Escapemaking with William D. Pratt

It was a sunny spring afternoon on Thursday April, 19, 2018.

Over 150 parents, students and teachers lined the hallways of William D. Pratt school – not to catch some rays – but to plunge themselves into the dimly lit, mysterious creations of the Grade 5 and 6 students' escape rooms: Frankenstein and CIS:WDP.

The Grade 5s took on the challenge of creating the Frankenstein escape room: 5 classes combining their creativity to develop a series of clues that would raise "Frank" back to life.

Some of the clues involved reading words written backwards in a mirror, finding clues under a jar of "spare tongues", and lifting hidden objects to decipher clues. 

One of the most impressive elements of the Grade 5 room was the degree of theming: from aforementioned tongue jars, to trippy red lighting, to an entire wall decorated like bricks, and an impressive exterior display of cartoon "Frank". It made the Grade 5 room a huge attraction to parents and students during the celebration of learning.

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The Grade 6s dipped into some classic early 2000s pop culture history with the creation of their CSI:WDP escape room. Participants were tasked to use the evidence in the room, find the suspect's fingerprint, and scan it in the computer to alert the authorities.

The room was dark. The ambiance set by student-created music. Flashlights darted this way and that, shining over bullets, hair samples, and other evidence. This room was very tricky, and only the most adept escapers were able to scan the fingerprint and succeed.

Overall, each grade worked together very well, pooling their collective abilities, trying something they'd never done before, and showing off their work at an extremely well-attending celebration of learning.

Congratulations William D. Pratt students on your amazing residency!!!

Crazy Creative

Last week Mobile Escape put on several field trips at schools in and around the Calgary area. While it was a lot of fun having the kids try our escape rooms, what was even more exhilarating was the creations they came up with: codes and ciphers, riddles and puzzles, and even escape room prototypes! Here's some of their amazing creations:

Thought Leader: Grace Miao

We spoke with Grace Maio in April. She’s a Grade 4 teacher at Grant MacEwan School. We asked her about inquiry-based learning and what she thinks of gamifying the classroom. 

 

Hi Grace, thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

No problem.

 

You’ve checked out Mobile Escape before, yes? What do you think?

I really appreciate the concept of connecting something so fun, authentic and hands-on (like an escape room) to the curriculum. I think a lot of the kids struggle because curriculum can be boring or hard to connect. I think Mobile Escape is a cool approach.

 

Is inquiry-based learning something you focus on at your school?

Our school is very inquiry-focused. Inquiry is discipline-focused where teachers are planning lessons around how an expert in that field approaches the problem at hand. Students are learning through the lens of a junior version of such an expert. Inquiry-based learning tries to find a connection between curriculum and the real world. For example, teaching students how to blueprint makes them feel like a junior version of an engineer: authentic, real-life based. Not just knowledge-based. Students learn better when they choose to engage. We introduce a topic with a hook, maybe a video, or we’ll create something to get them interested.

 

How has your Masters program affected your teaching?

I did the first year for personal growth where I learned about wellness. In the second year I took a creativity course which has broadened how I approach teaching. I’m not spoon-feeding so much. Students go home and research and explore ideas on their own, find it in the library, it’s neat. It’s made me not focus so much on the curriculum. I personally think if you teach the basic skills, the learning will happen; it’s all correlated anyways. I am more focused on the front end of the curriculum rather than each specific learning outcome. If I can have a conversation with kids, they may take it off topic, and that’s part of learning.

 

What do you think of gamifying the classroom?

I’m all for it and it aligns well with kids today. Kids are teaching me how to use Snapchat! I think gamification is a great idea, but there are a lot of traditional teachers—maybe half of us? How are you going to engage those teachers to change a pedagogy they’ve had for 20 years? I don’t know!

 

What would you think of an escape room residency?

We’ve done art and dance residencies. The kids like looking up to someone else, in a balanced learning experience that’s not so paper-and-pencil. I really like the idea of the kids creating their own escape room. After all, when you can share an idea you really get it.

 

Any final thoughts?

It’s awesome that you guys are promoting critical thinking. It’s something that kids really need nowadays. Kids have become zombie-like. Your approach is very natural: asking questions. If you’re stuck in a room, you have to ask questions to get out.

 

Oh, and you should give them lab coats.

 

Great idea.

Thanks. This is really cool!

 

 

Thought Leader: Allison Robb-Hagg

We spoke with Allison Robb-Hagg in March. She’s a Grade 4 teacher at Westgate School. We asked her about her teaching methods, and what she thinks of gamifying the classroom. 

 

M.E. - Hi Allison, what do you think of the phrase “gamifying the classroom”?

A.R.H. - I think it’s a great way to get kids into learning without letting them know that’s what’s happening. It’s actually a big area of study at the [University of Calgary] too. Kids are playing video games, so how can we bring that into the classroom? We need to respond to what the kids are into.

 

I understand you’re completing a Masters at the U of C right now as well? 

Yes. I’m in an amazing and life-changing class called Design Thinking for Innovation. It’s all about seeing the potential in students and building their creative capacity. As educators, we are responsible to the curriculum but we can be as creative as possible to reach more students.

 

There’s a lot of talk right now about inquiry-based learning. How do you engage with that topic?

Inquiry based learning is a big name for a lot of things. My specific style is design thinking: problem solving, problem seeking. I try to make my students problem seekers and solvers in the world. I find that everybody has their own definition of inquiry-based learning.

We’re looking at task design as a school, coming from a place of empathy. Last year we talked about how our actions affect other people: from girls rights in sports, to racism, to learning disabilities in the classroom. The kids rallied around them based on their interests.

 

How do field trips play into all this? And what do you look for in a field trip?

I love field trips! I try and do as many as I can. I look for three things in a field trip. First, I’m looking for connections to curriculum, delivered in an interesting way. Second, it needs to be hands-on, and interactive, leaving my students with questions and wonder. And third, it needs to lead into my next project.

Last year we visited the landfill and recycling centre. Students journaled about what bothered them and what they saw. They ended up starting a recycling initiative. We reduced garbage from 8 bags to 5. We’re still working toward education and spreading the message. I want to create little citizens of the world.

 

In our field trips, students get a chance to be makers themselves. After doing our escape room, they get to make their own. And in the process, we’re teaching kids about what their learning style is and how they can work with others more effectively. 

It sounds like a long-term benefit, to learn how to build your own puzzles, make your own room. But how are you going to identify different types of learners through as escape room?

 

People unknowingly show their true colours throughout the process of an escape room. Because the stakes are high, people don’t self-regulate as much. And we can make observations and reflect on our behaviour in escape room to draw conclusions.

I see that all the time in my class; different kids have propensities for different engagement. How could the kids make an escape room in a 2-hour field trip?

 

We envision a “made by the kids” escape room where the rules are bent. Right now escape rooms are mostly 1-hour blocks with 3 or 4 rooms. But we’re rewriting that rulebook to include any theme, any timeframe. The important part is that kids become the makers.

That would be amazing!