Reflection Discussion

VP@C learners leading a group of DCE fourth-graders in a reflection on their escape room experience.

“Escape” from Victory Place

—Ryan Smits

The fourth grade learners of Denton Creek Elementary participated in an escape room experience at Victory Place @ Coppell on October 12, 2017. Over the course of the previous two weeks, VP@C learners worked to create an escape room experience. The goal: to challenge their participants to think creatively, work as a team, and solve their carefully crafted puzzles using problem solving skills. The experience included various “gizmos” that needed to be coded, which engaged the learners in computational thinking. The day was a success, and the Denton Creek learners and educators expressed their appreciation of the experience.

Two weeks earlier, the VP@C learners were given the opportunity to design an escape room for fourth-graders. They decided on a Disney theme with four pathways: Frozen, Moana, Toy Story, and Finding Nemo. Many of them put in extra time and effort creating props and decorations, outside of school hours, to make sure it was a great experience. One student said, “I think it will be the decorations that make the difference, and make them think it is really special.”

As the fourth-graders arrived and awaited instructions, they squirmed in their seats with visible excitement.  One would nudge their friend and say, “Oh! That one is Moana, I love Moana!” while another would say, “That one over there is Frozen!”  They were eager to begin their hour-long experience at Victory Place.

VP@C learners explained to attentive ears that, “in order to complete an escape room, you need to show cooperation, have curiosity, and use your problem solving skills.” The DCE learners had to decipher secret codes, find hidden objects, figure out riddles, and program electronics to perform certain tasks.  They understood and were ready for their challenge.

With the timer set for 30 minutes, someone counted them off, “Three...Two...One... Go!” and the DCE learners, in groups of two or three, explored their corners of the room.  They picked objects up, moved items around, and when they found a clue, would exclaim, “Yay, I found a clue!” With their new clue in hand they would continue their search, seeking help from their partners until they were victorious.

Every team was successful, although sometimes it came right down to the wire, with the final box opened with only seconds left on the timer.  They cheered in joy when they finished. As they successfully ‘escaped’ Victory Place some said, “That was the best” and one let us know that “you have to pay $31 at the mall for this, I can’t believe there was no admission!”

After they ‘escaped’, VP@C learners led a discussion. The fourth-graders explained what they liked, what they thought was frustrating, and which Great Expectations Life Principles they used. Many said their favorite parts were the robots they used, such as the Ozobot, Sphero, and Probot. Several learners said they “really enjoyed programming the robots to do what we needed. “ They added that cooperation was key to being successful and, “it would have been harder without a partner.” When asked if they want to come back in May for a new escape room, the decision was unanimous: absolutely, positively, Yes!

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