maker centre

Calgary Christian School - Mobile Escape Room Residency

 
 

Welcome to the Mystery of Mjolnir Escape Room!

I (Eric) visited Calgary Christian School on Day 1 of the residency - Acclimation Day. Many of the Grade 8s had never done an escape room before so it was fun to listen to Adam explain the medium, as well as witness them get to try both our rooms and a Tabletop Escape Game.

And then I was off to Nose Creek for a few days while Adam continued the residency. The students quickly developed elaborate ideas of ships, trees, thrones, and walkways. Adam let me know they had lots of ideas and the build was on.

I returned to the school on the evening of the 4th day to witness what they had made, and wow, was I impressed. All their creations has hidden compartments and tricks that only the observant would notice. In fact, one time they stumped me on a puzzle that was very “simple” - we even use that style of puzzle in our escape rooms!

 
Mobile Escape Room Residency - Thor.JPG
 

It was clear by the atmosphere that evening - the proud smiles, the concession stand, the engaged students - that the escape room meant a lot to them. They worked very hard and did an excellent job.

Way to go Calgary Christian School!

This original creation was made by the Grade 8 classes at Calgary Christian School during the 4-day intensive Mobile Escape Room Residency. The video depicts several clues and puzzles, which helped the participants collect several artifacts, enabling Thor's mystical hammer to finally be wielded again.

12 Mile Coulee Grade 7 Mobile Escape Rooms

As one of the final projects of the year, 6 classes of Grade 7 students at 12 Mile Coulee School in Calgary, AB participated in the Mobile Escape Residency program. Three of the classes contributed their skills, knowledge and expertise toward the creation of one of two fully operational escape rooms, built right inside the school.

There was Battleship, with a giant board of the island to be defended from invading pirates, missile detection system, and shipwrecked clues hidden throughout the room

And there was the museum, with modern art of many kinds, a giant Jackson Pollock-esque splatter painting, and an impressive security system around the coveted statue.

We're happy to say that some of the artwork coming out of this residency was the best we've ever seen.

Check out this original painting!

Mobile Escape Room battleship

And this sliding puzzle on Instagram!

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.

20180419_181816.jpg

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: 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!