Grade 4 Students at Battalion Park School in Calgary, AB created their own escape room inside the school. Over the course of one week they tried professional escape rooms, prototyped their own clues, blueprinted an escape room, implemented their ideas, and worked collaboratively between 3 classes to complete a fully-functional escape room!
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!
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!
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!"
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.
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!!!
November became December at Sarah Thompson School in Langdon, AB and it couldn't have been more brilliant.
Picture this: the school's gymnasium divided into two halves. On one half, students showcasing their learning from the past two months of User Experience . They have been coached in stage and set design, web design, and more. All of their learning recorded in journals an on display.
And on the other side of the gym?
Six escape rooms, built by students, according to the novels they read in class:
- The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
- Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
- The Mixed Up Files of Basil E. Frankweiler
- and more...
The students first launched into the world of escape rooms with Mobile Escape's two mobile rooms, Mayan Mystery, and a maker space. After getting on the same page through this immersive experience, the students then started to blueprint their own rooms.
This process started to uncover some of the difficulties associated with teamwork and collaboration. But they persisted, overcoming obstacles and working together.
Finally, after consolidating ideas, it was time to start building the rooms! It was a flurrious day indeed. (That's a new word by the way. You can use it.)
The last day included room completion, testing, and showcasing to the grade 3s and 4s. This was our favourite moment of the whole week. The younger students came into the gym with rapt attention, fascinated by what the older students made. And the grade 5s owned their projects with such enthusiasm, explaining rules, telling stories, and providing guidance when necessary.
It was a beautiful moment that encapsulated a powerful week of learning at Sarah Thompson School.
Thank you for sharing it with us!
Update: The Task Design Canvas can be found here.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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”.
As more and more people fall in love with escape rooms, its only natural that mobile escape rooms will become more and common. We're excited to see 8 more mobile escape rooms worldwide that are serving customers by coming to them. Woohoo!
In fact, there's a mobile escape room right here in Calgary debuting tomorrow! Servus Credit Union leads the list at number one, and will be showcasing their room at a few events this summer.
- Servus Credit Union in Calgary, Alberta.
- Grey Bruce Escape Room Adventures in Grey Bruce, Ontario.
- Imaginar Mobile Escape Room in Wausau, Wisconsin.
- Get Lost! in Huntington, West Virginia.
- Escape Boats in Dublin, Ireland.
- KL Escape Rooms in Janesville, Wisconsin.
- Exodus Escape Room in Windsor, Ontario.
- Operation Escape Room in Brighton, UK.
At Mobile Escape, we bring the escape room to you.
Happy escaping everyone!