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!

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!

West Ridge School Grade 6 Residency

Jackie Morley Mobile Escape Room

Hello everyone! I’m Jackie! A few weeks ago I was able to go to Westridge Middle School and work with three grade 6 classes to build our own escape room.

My creative grade 6 students came up with the brilliant storyline of Mr. Green Missing Money. Mr. Green had invited 6 of his closest “friends” to his cabin, however one of these so-called friends stole billions of his dollars! Although the person got away Mr. Green is quite certain that the money has been hidden somewhere in the cabin. Using your best detective skills, you need to discover who stole Mr. Green’s money and where it is now.

I remember as a kid loving the evidence and investigation unit. I always found it exciting and these kids had the opportunity to learn about this unit hands on. They had the chance to create six suspect characters, give them fingerprints, handwriting samples and clothing swatches for their parents to figure out who left clues around the cabin. The briefcase full of money was found in the sink in the bathroom, and using the cleverly placed clues around the cabin, parents were able to find the missing money.

In the Westridge Comfort Inn parents and friends had to investigate where the bank robber went in the hotel.

The investigators had to first enter the hotel through my favourite creation from the week - a rotating door the kids made! Following the footsteps into the lobby, and an array of clues, parents were led to the elevator. In the shiny elevator, guests found themselves trapped, and having to solve a puzzle to find a hidden key in the elevator to escape into the hallway.

This is one tough burglar to catch!

Once guests were in the hallway, they had to discover which of the many doors the burglar was hiding behind. The kids had a blast making the hallway with plenty of doors, each leading to a potential place the burglar could be hiding.

The Fish Creek Story

There is so much to love about my job, but one thing I desire more of is prolonged engagement at schools. That’s why it was such a privilege to come back to Fish Creek School for a second year.

Last year’s grade 5s had had a chance to do the Grade 6 escape room. So, this year, when it was their turn to create an escape room, the excitement and expectation was already there. Some students even commented that - out of the entire year - they were most looking forward to this residency!

When the Mobile Escape team hit the ground on Monday, the students were off to the races, solving escape rooms and brainstorming ideas for their own themes: outer space and flight. We also benefitted from the incredible teachers at Fish Creek School who believe in what we’re doing, as well as in their own students. It made the week that much more enjoyable!

The students then spent almost an entire day blueprinting and working through the design process. Plans were made, adjusted, scrapped, advanced, improved and selected. This prepped everyone for 2 incredibly productive “build days” where the students created their respective escape rooms.

Friday was test, refine and showcase day, where Grade 2s, 3s, 5s and staff tried the rooms prior to an afternoon of having parents, siblings, friends and family try the rooms. What a blast!

There were a few highlights for me, but the thought that summarizes them all is this: every student succeeded. For those who traditionally do well in school, their intelligence shone through, no doubt. And for the students who struggle academically, they had so many diverse opportunities to showcase their value. As we love to say at Mobile Escape, “it’s not how smart you are, but how you are smart.”

Here are some incredible quotes from the Fish Creek Grade 6s reflecting on their week:

Thank you for letting us have this amazing opportunity to have freedom and use our imaginations and create.

You may have left, but the memories have stayed.

I think that the idea of certain groups doing certain jobs is a fantastic way to make work process go faster.

It realy taught me a lesson about always look twice, as you might miss something important.

I was really eager to shoot and edit a video, and well, I got my dream.

I cannot thank you guys enough for giving every student the opportunity to work on something larger than just their own small project. It really taught all of us to work together, and think of ideas that weren’t ever done before.

Citadel Park School

Two amazing weeks with Citadel Park School

Week 1 - Grades 2-4

The Grades 2, 3 and 4 students combined to create two different escape rooms: Night at the Museum and Pete’s Dragon. While the storylines were selected for them, the way the room played out was up to them. So what did they create?

One room featured a giant dragon named Elliot. The students made the fur, the barn he crashed out of, the truck tires, trees, and more. Every clue was designed to help participants know how to flip the switches in the correct sequence, opening Elliots mouth and waking him up.

In the other escape room, the students were able to create artifacts of many different kinds which all helped lead to the final clue of the escape room. Their creations included an enormous teepee, a dinosaur skeleton, and more. Here’s what it looked like:

Week 2 - Kindergarten and Grade 1

The Kindergarten and grade 1 students are always a treat to work with!

We are often asked, “What is the youngest age that can make an escape room?”

Upon learning that we can help kindergarten and grade 1 students create a version of an escape room, teachers and admin are often delightfully surprised!

The eight different k-1 classes worked together to create two escape rooms. One of the escape rooms followed the theme and storyline of the Pied Piper, and the other a retelling of Hansel and Gretel.

Pied Piper Escape Room

In the version of the Pied Piper the kids were told, the Pied Piper was promised a large sum of gold for getting rid of all the rats in the town of Hamelin. However, upon completion of his task he only received 1 small gold coin! As a result he played a magical tune to make all the kids wander off into Candyland behind the magical mountain until he got paid. So the parents were tasked with finding 4 gold coins in the escape room to “pay the piper” with and rescue their kids from behind the mountain before it was too late and their kids were gone forever!

Hansel and Gretel Escape Room

In the Hansel and Gretel escape room the students left “bread crumbs” behind as clues for the parents to find. These bread crumbs helped them solve the mystery and lead Hansel and Gretel to their escape from the witch’s house!

Both rooms were filled with student-made candies, forests, mountains and other wonder-filled imagery of fairy tales! It never ceases to amaze us how capable the little ones are when they are given a little extra guidance and instruction.

Nose Creek School

How do you make an escape room with nearly 1000 students?

You don’t!

You make 6 escape rooms.

6 Different Mobile Escape Rooms

In our largest and longest-ever residency program to date, 4 different Mobile Escape staff worked with every student at Nose Creek School over the course of 4 months to create 6 different escape rooms inside the school:

  • Grade 9 - Dr. Frankenstein’s Monster

  • Grade 8 - Da Vinci Museum Heist

  • Grade 7 - City’Scape Calgary 2.0

  • Grade 6 - Art Gallery and Crime Scene

  • Grade 5 - Kodiak Creek Express - Runaway Train

  • Grade 4 - Robot Rocket Launch

The Grade 8s and 9s went first and set the bar high!

Grade 9 - Dr. Frankenstein’s Monster

The grade 9 students were introduced to their electricity unit by creating puzzles to power up Dr. Frankenstein’s monster. In the version of the story the grade 9 students created, tourists stumbled upon Dr. Frankenstein's lab but then the door was locked behind them. The tourists had to look through Dr. Frankenstein’s notes in order to find clues and figure out how to generate the power needed to bring the monster to life so that he could bang the door down for them!

One of my (Paul) highlights from working with these grade 9 students was working with the PLP students. It was a beautiful display of their incredible abilities. The PLP class created a unique puzzle where the “tourists” had to find find a battery in order to complete a circuit (which the students created themselves!) illuminating certain lights that revealed new information required to power up the monster. Enjoy!

Grade 8 - Da Vinci Museum Heist

This Da Vinci escape room was a theme never done before, and it took a ton of brain power and teamwork to pull it off.

The students were both learning about Da Vinci’s inventions while simultaneously trying to turn them into clues… not easy!

Some highlights from the room include a stunning sketch of Mona Lisa and a functional crossbow. Great job grade 8s!

Then, it was time for the Grade 6s and 7s to show off their ingenuity.

Grade 7 - City’Scape Calgary 2.0

Let’s build a city and turn it into an escape room! The grade 7 students created “Calgary 2.0” where things had gone astray and power needed to be restored. Specialists (the parents, family and friends) were brought in to help the Mayor, solve the puzzles, and bring the futuristic city back on-line.

Grade 6 - Art Gallery Crime Scene

The grade 6 students were tasked with creating an escape room linked to their Evidence and Investigation unit, more commonly known as “The CSI unit”. In the story of this room the NCS Art Gallery had an attempted robbery. The priceless gem was taken from its secure pedestal, and the thief got away. Detectives (the parents) were brought in to inspect the crime scene looking for evidence to narrow down the list of suspects and make an arrest in order to reclaim the gem.

And last, but certainly not least, were the grade 4s and 5s.

They might be smaller and less experienced than the older students, but they make up for it in gusto!

There was some fabulous building going on as the students in each grade sought to accomplish some pretty ambitious builds: including a rocket ship and a train, each big enough to get inside.

Grade 5 - Kodiak Creek Express

Choo choooo!

Uh oh! The conductor’s asleep and there’s a bridge out ahead!

Your job is to stop the train (made by the fabulous Grade 5s) from barrelling off the tracks into the canyon below.

One of my (Eric) highlights from this residency was the animation that the students made to signify the train going down the tracks.

There were also multiple rooms on board our train: first class, second class, and cargo. This created a really cool dynamic and resulted in both a fun but extremely challenging escape room.

Grade 4 - Robot Rocket Launch

The whimsical Grade 4s developed their own storyline: a mad scientist trying to take over the world with robots! The only way to stop him? Launch a rocket into space with a LOT of water on board, and drop it on the robots to short-circuit them… makes sense, right?

Well it did to these little gaffers! Which is why they were furiously building robot parts, diagrams, a rocket, and a well!

A Huge Thank You

The staff at Nose Creek School deserve a huge thank-you and congratulations. They all worked so hard and created such wonderful work. The teamwork between students was incredible, and this culture existed at the school before we got there thanks to the amazing staff.

A special thank-you to Sarabeth who was brave enough to believe this was all possible.

Congratulations NCS!