There is a new platform for immersive learning games that’s taking classrooms across the world by storm. Based on the same principles as interactive Escape The Room digital games — which challenge players to use their surroundings to escape a prison-like scenario — Breakout EDU is a collaborative learning experience that enhances critical thinking and creativity while fostering a growth mindset in students.
There are two types of games available for teachers to run in their classrooms: the physical games (which are the main games) use the Breakout EDU box (or any box with a hasp that can be locked) with a set of locks, and the digital games which only need internet-connected devices.
Gameplay revolves around a Breakout EDU box that has been locked with multiple and different locks including directional locks, word locks, and number locks. After listening to a game scenario read by the teacher, students must work together to find and use clues to solve puzzles that reveal the various lock combinations before time expires (usually 45 minutes). Teachers can either purchase the Breakout EDU kit, which includes a plastic or wooden box and a set of locks, or the individual pieces of the kit can be ordered from Amazon directly. Either way, it takes about $100 to get started with the physical games; the digital games are free.
The physical games
These games require a Breakout EDU box and a set of locks which can be purchased as a kit or individually. At present there are 60 games available on the Breakout EDU website, and more are being added each week. Teachers can select games based on the age level of students, ideal group size, and content area. There is even a template for teachers to design their own games which can be submitted for inclusion on the site.
Instructions from the Breakout EDU website
Most games can be set up in under 15 minutes before students enter the classroom. Each game includes physical and digital clues which help students solve puzzles to obtain the combinations to the assorted locks. All of these are included on the Breakout EDU game page where they can be downloaded and printed out. Additionally, overview videos are included to assist teachers with game preparation.
Game titles include:
- Dr. Johnson’s Lab (Zombie Apocalypse)
- Attack of the Locks (Star Wars themed)
- The Candy Caper
- The Mighty Pen
As they play these fast-paced games, students work collaboratively to find clues while using critical thinking skills and deductive reasoning to solve puzzles that reveal the lock combinations before time expires (a link to a Breakout EDU timer is included).
Next page: The digital games
The same game principles from the main Breakout EDU games page apply to these games, but there is no physical component needed other than an internet-connected device, preferably a Chromebook, laptop, or desktop computer. There are 18 digital games available on the Breakout EDU Digital site, with more due to be released on August 21. They range in difficulty from Level 1-10. However, these ratings are subjective, and all the digital games are quite challenging.
In these games, small groups of students search for clues in the form of hidden hyperlinks in images and text on the game webpage. These clues may lead to puzzles that when solved, reveal the combinations to assorted digital locks on the game page. However, there are “red herrings” included in each game that will lead players on a wild goose chase if followed. Students have 45 minutes to use clues found to solve the digital puzzles and find the combinations to all the locks.
A frequent response of teachers watching students working through these games is “total engagement.” In fact, most students are unhappy when time expires as they want to continue working on the puzzles. These games foster a growth mindset as a spirit of resilience is promoted because students use trial-and-error to complete the games.
As the new school year approaches, it is my suggestion that educators visit the Breakout EDU site to familiarize themselves with this exciting and interactive game platform. I highly recommend teachers join the Facebook page, as there is a vibrant and spirited group of game aficionados who share game ideas and links to brand new physical and digital games.
Lastly, I encourage interested teachers to play a few of the digital games themselves (either alone, with family, or other faculty members) to experience it for themselves and to discover some of the great skills their students will be sharpening.
By @MariaGalanis and @sylviaduckworth
Learn more: Breakout EDU Resources