Page 10 - THE Journal, June/July 2017
P. 10

| JUNE/JULY 2017
Students at Sioux Falls Christian Schools work collaboratively to unlock clues that will help them get into their breakout box and solve a math problem.
Sometimes the organizers will bag up small colored disks (like those from a bingo game) to help students figure out scientific formulas that will lead to a clue. Or a set
of clues could be from presentations given by individual students. That means every student can contribute a “little piece” to the solving of that part of the challenge.
Other times, the clue might have two levels, for example, turning up in the form of a colorful graph on display; the students need to interpret the data to figure out the right numbers to open a lock with colored barrels.
Where the Clues are Hidden
At Sioux Falls, clues may get stuck to the bottom of chairs or desks or tables. They may be tucked up into the old pull-down AV screens or hidden in the rolled portion of the classroom’s flags. They’re anywhere and everywhere within the space, aside from the areas that have been deemed off-limits.
The students who have been through the breakout experience once or twice know
to keep their eyes open for something out of the ordinary. For example, in one game with a lock that had a letter combination that could be used to form words, the clue
was hidden on a sticky note tucked into
a flip phone. “We were wondering if the kids even knew how to use that type of a keyboard,” Mulder said. That was tucked up next to an old television that had a VCR built into it. “Those are the things where the kids have to ask, ‘Is that supposed to be there?’ They start to notice what’s out of place,” she added.
In another situation two science class teachers a room apart from each other wanted to run a simultaneous challenge, each with
its own locked box and seven locks. In that case, it took a while for the students to realize they weren’t competing but collaborating and that each class had some of the clues needed by the other. Communication was handled through a live feed on a display with Google Hangouts. “It was advanced and chaotic, and yet it worked,” Mulder mused. “It was really fun to see how we could advance the
level a little and add in some communi-
cation skills while using some of our
tech skills.”
Breakouts for Better Understanding
Breakouts in the classroom aren’t there just for the fun of it, Mulder insisted.
They’re also opportunities for the teachers to gain better understanding about how their students think. Kids who may not be good with abstract concepts may be great at ferreting out clues around the room. Others may excel in asking the questions that lead to discoveries, such as why objects are laid out in a pattern or what’s different in the environment. “School is all about the answers. Teaching students to ask questions, to get to that answer can be a new concept for them,” Mulder said. “I’m hoping that that will transfer into something the next time they don’t know an answer — that if they can start asking
a few questions, they can get closer and closer to the answer and in that time gain a little bit of insight into the real background of the question.”
In one two-day marathon, Mulder and her team ran seven math section breakouts. “To me, it was one of the greatest studies in psychology ever,” she marveled. “I watched the makeup of each class, and it was interesting how each class approached the finding of the clues differently. Some divided and conquered. Some just scattered.” One of the classes that was particularly high
Photos: Kristin Mulder, Sioux Falls Christian Schools

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