Page 8 - THE Journal, June/July 2017
P. 8

ESCAPE ROOMS ARE breaking out all over. The latest tally by Room Escape Artist counts more than 1,700
in the United States alone. It only makes sense that teachers would want to find a way to bring the concept of a locked room into education as well. After all, who doesn’t want to escape from the classroom at some point during the year? But since the idea of locking up students wouldn’t translate well
to most parents, some inspired teachers have figured out a better way to bring the challenge of the escape room to their instruction — with the use of breakout boxes.
figure out the combination to a lock, locate a key or something else to move them through the game.
The games aren’t simply a pause
from worksheets. From the outset, they encourage teamwork and critical thinking. As teachers become more conversant with the concept, breakout boxes can
also provide opportunities for informal assessments and help educators better understand how students’ thinking works.
Breakout EDU’s boxes assemble the accessories — the lock box itself, various kinds of locks, an “invisible ink” light,
hint cards, and other components — that teachers can use to run the game in their classrooms. It also provides free access to a library of digital resources such as games that teachers can use to run a breakout.
For example, in the game, “Dr. Johnson’s Lab Zombie Apocalypse,” the crazy
doctor plans to unleash a deadly airborne virus that will transform anyone who
comes in contact into a zombie. To save the world, students must find and use clues to break into the box containing the antidote. Other games in the prodigious collection include, “All School Sliming,” “Digestion Detectives,” and “Lost Phone at the Zoo.”
Locked Room, Locked Box
Escape rooms, if you haven’t heard of them, are physical locations where you and your teammates enter a “magical world that
has its own purpose,” as Sherry Jones, a philosophy and game studies subject matter expert and lecturer at Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design, explained. “There’s some reason you’re trapped in there. When you play the game, you’re trying to figure out how to get out.”
The room has clues in the form of objects and gadgets, and the whole activity is timed. As the clock ticks down, the
players need to figure out why those objects are there, what their function is, how they help explain why you’re locked up in the first place and how they can work as clues to help you escape before the room “blows up” or the participants inside “freeze” or some other metaphorical demise occurs.
Breakout boxes, such as those introduced by Breakout EDU, turn that formula on
its head. Instead of escaping from a room, students must break into a box secured with multiple locks. They do this by drawing on what they’re learning in class
to untangle clues that may help them
| JUNE/JULY 2017

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