task design

Grandview Heights: One of a Kind

If you were to condense the The Grandview Heights story into one sentence it would go like this…

A government secret agent is above a museum spaceship traveling back to the wild west, and things are going wrong…

Wait a minute, that doesn’t make sense. Let’s start over, shall we?

At Grandview Heights, the grade 1-3 students tracked down artifacts in their Night at the Museum escape room; the grade 4-6 students found the location and identity of a criminal in Her Majesty’s Secret Service; and the grade 7-9 students proved their worthiness to be sheriff in the Wild West and saved a spaceship in Mission to Mars!

It is not often that we get to work with so many students over multiple weeks and see their engagement and enthusiasm for learning. It has been a great way to help launch our Edmonton and Northern Alberta programs by seeing the growth of students on multiple occasions! Take a look at some of the awesome creations so far.




We are headed back to the school for a third time this Spring to do a Mobile Escape first: we are working with the grade 7-9 students for a second time in one year! This time, the students get to build on their learning from the previous residency and even design their own theme. The students will need to present their theme idea and how it fits into the curriculum elements that they are learning about prior to starting the blueprinting, build and showcase process this May. Stay tuned for details!



"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!

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!

 

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!!!

6 Questions to Support Task Design

Update: The Task Design Canvas can be found here.

  1. How can I design a “real world” task that my students will be intrinsically interested in?

    • Perform a drama? Build a city? Make a movie? Build a robot? Extract a natural resource? Operate a mini-Saddledome for a week? Revitalize a community or brownfield?

    • Remember: A person’s perspective of reality is primary (their story) – therefore, we need to value and start the change process with what is important to the person.

  2. How can I effectively level the playing field for all students at the outset?

    • Instructions? Examples? Big-group sharing of past experience?

    • Remember: People have more confidence and comfort to journey to the future (the unknown) when they are invited to start with what they already know.

  3. How can I set parameters that encourage my students rather than discourage them?

    • How can we help the students to see challenges as capacity fostering (not something to avoid)?

    • Remember: The language we use creates our reality

  4. If there's a chance my students could feel like they failed, how can I mitigate this?

    • Remember: Positive change occurs in the context of authentic relationships - people need to know someone cares and will be there unconditionally for them.

  5. How can I give multiple points of validation and affirmation throughout the experience?

    • Remember: Capacity building is a process and a goal – a life long journey that is dynamic as opposed to static.

  6. How can I showcase student ingenuity and creativity?

    • Remember: It is important to value differences and the essential need to collaborate – effective change is a collaborative, inclusive and participatory process – “It takes a village to raise a child”.