After three Berry College Middle School teachers turned their classrooms in-to escape rooms, the role of gamemaster was then taken on by their students to create their own for each other as well as elementary students.
In brainstorming ideas for the latest odyssey — a weeklong activity at the end of each quarter that combines education and entertainment — teachers Jason Tucker, Ellice Curry-Tucker and Julianne Bailey built on their experience at an escape room in Chattanooga.
Though, they had to alter the escape room idea, since “locking kids in a room has inherent problems,” Tucker joked.
So they each developed different themes for three board game escape rooms for their students to take part in when they returned from Christmas break earli-er this month. Curry-Tucker stoked students’ fandom of the popular TV show “Stranger Things,” while Tucker’s was Unfamiliar Whatchamacallits and Bai-ley’s was fairy tales.
Solving the puzzles and finding clues led to the unlocking of a handful of padlocks on boxes, from directional codes to number sequences. An example in Curry-Tucker’s room was using a world map for students to find coordinates with a blacklight and figuring out it’s a math puzzle for them to solve.
Not all students had success, Tucker said. And this is a great learning experi-ence for them and something they can take with them through life, learning to make adjustments to achieve different results, he added.
Then the three teachers stepped back and handed the reins over to students to develop their own escape rooms for their fellow middle schoolers. Students not only had to think of the solutions but all the non-solutions as well as they be-came the creators, Curry-Tucker said.
After this, the students from each of the classrooms then had to tailor their game designs to younger audiences — elementary schoolers. This involves “higher-order thinking,” Curry-Tucker said, as it puts students in the position of making an idea compatible with a particular group.
“I think it was smart of the teacher to help us adapt to different age groups,” said sixth-grader Levi Pierce in his written reflection. “I think it helped people show versatility. People have to adapt in real life all the time.”
Bailey said involving the entire school in odyssey activities is always the goal, but “it’s a rarity to capture all of the students’ imagination at once.”
Students have already requested the return of the escape rooms, but it won’t come back as an odyssey activity for the next three years, as the cycle dictates. However, the teachers did hint at possibly bringing it out for certain special occasions, to encourage problem solving and logic.
“My favorite part of our room that we made for the fourth- and-fifth-graders was the potions and the wands,” said eighth-grader Molly Mayfield, referring to the “Harry Potter” room in her written reflection. “This odyssey was a really good on e for team building.”
“Overall, this was a very creative odyssey, and one where you definitely needed to use your brain,” said seventh-grader Jonah Campbell.
The next odyssey for students will see classrooms, from floor to ceiling, turned into the Galapagos Islands.