Can you Escape?

How are you helping your students review for final exams?  I guarantee that nothing you are doing is as cool as what Keith Shanks is doing.  His students were welcomed into Q-24 on Wednesday morning, but Q-24 was not the usual classroom.  It had transformed into an escape room.

You may have heard of the latest escape room craze.  We even have one in the SCV (check out Arcane Escape Rooms in Newhall if you want to experience the fun for yourself!).   Wikipedia defines an escape room as a “physical adventure game in which players solve a series of puzzles using clues, hints and strategy to complete the objectives at hand. Players are given a set time limit to unveil the secret plot which is hidden within the rooms.”  Keith’s secret plot?  Final exam geometry review!

Here is how Keith set up his escape room:

1. The students were divided into two teams, one on each side of the room.  Each team had a different set of clues to solve and different hiding places for their clues, but were in competition with one another based on time.

2.  Students collaborated and worked through the math problems.  They then used their answers as “clues” to find where the next set of math problems was hidden.  For example, one set of clues included letters and numbers that corresponded to a textbook on the shelf in the class.  In the textbook the students found a key to a box.  Inside the box was their next set of problems to work through together.


3.  Keith included 6 clue sheets, such as the one below:

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4.  The group that completed all clues correctly and showed their math to Keith received extra credit on their final exams!

As you can see, the students loved this activity.  Each and every students was engaged and actively solving the clues (all while reviewing for the final exam!).  Teachers will love this activity because it allows for all those 21st century learning skills: collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity!  Plus, it has the potential to address so many standards.  For example, Keith hit Math Practice 1:  Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them and Math Practice 6: Attend to precision


I am already thinking of ways to use the escape room in my English classes next year.   I have seen escape rooms that look like prisons, dungeons, haunted mansions, mummy’s tombs, and so much more!  Imagine a catacomb escape room for Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Cask for Amontillado,” a mummy’s tomb in a world history class, a Watergate theme in a U.S. history course, or a mad scientist lab in a chem class…the possibilities are endless! Check out these educational escape room themes and ideas on Pinterest!

How will you use this activity in your own classroom?