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Escape the traditional classroom

I was first introduced to the BreakoutEDU concept by a colleague this past fall. I have to say, I am enamored with them. I find myself creating Breakout games for a number of units and disciplines! If you are unfamiliar with the BreakoutEDU concept, it is based off escape rooms. Those rooms that they lock you in that you have to solve puzzles and clues within a certain time frame to get out of. They are kind of like a modern day/reality based version of the game Clue.

Breakout EDU games teach students to use their problem solving, critical thinking and deductive reasoning skills in addition to teamwork. These skills are all necessary 21st Century learning skills and a necessity for life. Breakouts leverage the internet and simulates the iterative process (trial and error) until the clue is solved. All under the guise of a game.

Anyone can create a Breakout game, however, I would suggest running a Level 2 or 3 digital Breakout or a predesigned game prior to creating your own or having your students create one. I typically start with the Digital Breakout "Og's Great Adventure" and move on from there. One of my favorites is the Alcatraz digital breakout, I have yet to have a class solve it in one class period. One thing to note in digital breakouts, is that they are a bit anticlimactic for the students, so, I like to add in a physical incentive to the end of the game for the students. Breakout games would also be a great culminating activity for students to create as a summative for a unit.

James Sanders, the founder of the BreakoutEDU concept gives 10 key items that every Breakout Kit needs:

  • Large toolbox

  • Hasp (expands one lock into many)

  • multiple locks (word locks, directional locks, keyed locks, number locks, etc)

  • timer (though, I tend to use a google timer and project it on the whiteboard)

  • flashlight/Blacklight

  • invisible pen/blacklight markers

  • USB drive

  • small pencil box

You can purchase a breakout kit with their fancy schmancy handmade box or your can source the kit items directly via Home Depot, Amazon or searching your classroom for applicable items. One of the awesome things about BreakoutEDU is that they have open sourced the concept, so you can create a Breakout box and game specific to your classroom needs. You don't have to make a square peg fit a round hole! Over the past couple of years, since this concept has been introduced, thousands of educators have created breakout games, many of which have been compiled into a digital sandbox. You can find more breakout games here.

I have come across some great ideas over the past few months to creating clues, that I have set aside for my breakout games. Here are a few:

  • Use wooden blocks to create puzzles. Each block has six sides so additional red herring puzzles could be created with the blocks.

  • Students could create a solution or neutralize a solution in science to generate a puzzle solution maybe from the formula or the color that the solution changes to.

  • Math students can solve math puzzle to get number codes for a lock.

  • Maker based games could use 3D printing to have the students print the pieces of an objects and put it together as one of the clues.

  • Here are some great ideas for clues and codes

  • Create a code with emojis

  • This is a great app to generate some codes that can be deciphered using red cellophane

So many ideas, so little time!

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