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Engineering a Breakout

I recently started running Escape the Classroom/BreakoutEDU games at the local Makerspace. I find with all my lessons and activities I can not leave things as they are originally written. I started with the Mad Engineer's Heist game from BreakoutEDU but what I ended up with did not resemble the original AT ALL! I like the story lines to be more immersive, which does require quite a bit more work on my end but I find the activities are much more authentic, additionally, I know these students and they needed an additional challenge and immersive storyline.

I started the breakout by creating a video introducing the plot. I cobbled together video clips and over dubbed a voice over using a voice changer app. Learning should be fun even when we are doing as an after school activity.

Immediately the video rolls into the first challenge, which is 20 questions. Students or makers as I was calling them (since I was in the Makerspace) have 5 minutes and 20 questions to guess the first passcode. If they succeed, I hand them their first clue and they get 60 minutes on the deadline clock (We do 60 min puzzles because I have them for an hour and a half), if they fail, 5 minutes is subtracted from their deadline and they will need to locate the first clue in the room. As questions were quickly thrown out, the group rapidly realized they needed to work more as a team to ask specific questions. They ran the questions out but time was still ticking and since this was our first meeting as a group I allowed them to ask three additional questions to see if you could guess the secret word, which they found was "Pizza".

In my opinion, jumping into the game in this manner adds a level of suspense and intrigue to the game, and increases group motivation. It also adds a level of inter-activeness. The first "clue" I gave them was a box of random keys. One of the keys went to one of the two keyed locks in the game. I lost count after 10 rounds of them trying each key on the second keyed lock before one of the kids commented "I don't think the key is in the box".

I included invisible ink with a coded message on some old house plans that I changed to be blueprints for Dr. Dooms new evil lair. A mexican army cipher wheel decoded the message. The one clue I kept from the original game was the electro-magnet motor. It was so far to not step in as they bent the paperclips and took off the taped code in their investigation of the clue It was a lesson learned to include some additional game rules before the game. Here is a link to my version of the Mad Engineer's Heist. Good luck gamers!

#STEM #cooperativelearning #problemsolving #breakout #breakoutedu #codes #ciphers #escapetheclassroom


New Boston, New Hampshire



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