students

"Good morning, Duffield School...."

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, involves the creation of an escape room designated “Mission: Impossible”. You may select to create any clues that you wish, but it is essential that you all work collaboratively to make it all come together. Ethan Hunt was on a top secret mission to save the world, but has gone missing. It is up to you to create an amazing escape room challenging others to solve your clues to track him down. You have 13 weeks of option classes to design your escape room and showcase the final product to the community. As always, should you learn something in the process, the better the outcome will be. And Duffield School, the next time you challenge your parents to solve your clues, please go a little easier on them. This message will self-destruct in five seconds.

Back in December, a group of Grade 7-9 students at Duffield School started an option class simply known as “Escape Room”. Little did they know that they would be spending the next 13 weeks building their very own Mission: Impossible themed escape. Escapers were challenged to track down Ethan Hunt who had been captured. They needed to find his whereabouts and start up his motorcycle to be able to rescue him before it was too late.

The students worked every week - once a week - to come up with the theme, brainstorm the clues, problem-solve the logistics of having others use the same space, construct and design all the elements, and finally showcase the finished escape room to the community in March 2019. They built in elements from their other studies including a laser maze, pulley system, electrical puzzle and various mechanical systems (including a motorcycle!) into the final product.

All this wonderful learning was made possible through Edmonton and Area Community Grants!

Sunalta School

Welcome to the amazing Sunalta School.

Why is it amazing you ask? For many reasons, I am sure, but here is one.

Grade 6 is a challenging year, with standardized testing often setting a tone of “must-do” in classrooms across Calgary. But at Sunalta, the Grade 6 teachers facilitate something remarkably creative: students build a cardboard castle in the classroom! (Totally rad.) Everything they do is linked to curriculum including math and geometry.

This is the kind of atmosphere that Principal Marie and her amazing teachers have worked to create in the school.

And that’s the atmosphere that we walked into on Day 1 of the week long residency program.

Students were so excited, many of them recalling last year’s escape rooms and mimicking clues that they remembered.

We got off to a great start with plentiful supplies and flurrious building:

All 3 room themes were firsts for us at Mobile Escape:

Candyland was built by the grade 1 and 2 students. They enjoyed making colourful creations, across different lands. Escapers were tasked with finding gingerbread pieces that would combine to make a password, granting access to King Candy’s Castle!

The Lego room was built by the Grade 3 and 4 students. They created giant blocks, minifigures and miscellaneous accessories. Escapers needed to retrieve power crystals to reboot their spaceship and get back to earth.

And the Grade 5 and 6 students built Azkaban prison from Harry Potter. Little is know about the prison in the books, so students used their imaginations including a Basilisk, Dementors, a hidden room and more. The final code for this escape room was both ingenious and tricky!


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.

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!

 

SJAM's Math Escape Room Residency

 
 

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!

SJAM Math Escape Room.jpg

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!!!

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!