Xʂƈαρҽ EDU

Unlock Learning with REAL Activities

Communication. Teamwork. Critical Thinking. Problem-solving. Perseverance: Essential modern-day skills employers are seeking in prospective employees. Unlock learning in your classroom with Relevant, Engaging and Authentic escape room games and breakout activities, or---both of which will help students develop these competencies as they unlock deeper and Lifelong learning that will help them thrive in our ever-changing world.

Xscape EDU Defined

Xscape: Noun

An educational game built by students for students.

Xscape EDU: Noun

A movement involving educators who provide students with the opportunity to create an original learning activity using clues, riddles, puzzles and physical and/or digital locks.

Xscape EDU Warrior: Noun

An educator who unlocks learning in the classroom via the use of student-designed Xscapes.

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And that's a sneak peek inside the Xscape EDU™ concept! Read on to learn more about how the movement began and how we're moving it forward...

Escape Rooms Explained

An escape room is a physical adventure game in which individuals are confined to a space for a predetermined set of time. During this time frame, players are challenged to solve a series of puzzles and riddles using clues, hints and strategy to unveil the secret plot which is hidden within the room(s). Games are set in a variety of fictional locations, such as theaters, prison cells, bunkers, dungeons, and space stations. The various puzzles and riddles in each experience typically follow the theme of the room.

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Type of Escape Rooms

As mentioned, there are a variety of escape rooms themes. But did you know there are also different types of escape rooms that have their own specific features? Yep, it's true! Some are better for larger teams as they require a significant amount of teamwork and collaborative thinking while others are perfect for smaller teams because they provide each player with the chance of solving their own puzzles. The more you understand the differences, the better equipped you will be to make an appropriate choice when locating or designing games for your students.

  • Linear: Contains a number of puzzles that can only be solved in a particular sequence. Basically, players do not see the next clue until they have found the previous one. Great for smaller teams and beginners!

  • Non-linear: Contains a number of puzzles, though such games have several smaller puzzles that are interconnected and lead to the larger puzzle that should be solved in order to win the game. Excellent for larger groups and experienced players!

  • Mixed: Contains a balance between the first two types of escape room games. They usually have a big puzzle that can be called a bottleneck. Solving it, you get a handful of small puzzles that you need to solve in order to get to another big puzzle. The clues come in waves, alternating bigger and more difficult tasks with smaller and easier questions, until the prize is achieved. Suitable for any size group!

  • Scavenger Hunt: Contains objects that are found by searching the room. There are usually no puzzles to solve. Thus, no strategy is required is to beat the game. However, a scavenger hunt can be incorporated into a linear, non-linear or mixed room for an additional challenge. Fun for children or adults!

  • Red Herring: Contains a number of distractions, or clues that lead nowhere. Some players enjoy actually distinguishing real matters from misleading clues while others become frustrated with taking the wrong path. Therefore, use these distractions sparingly.

Knowing your audience will help you determine what type of game will give your class/students the best experience possible!

Visit the Escape Hour for additional info regarding types of escape room activities.

The Power of Breakout EDU

What do you get when you combine the escape room concept with educators who want to infuse this type of gamification into the classroom?

Meet Breakout EDU, a platform that provides teachers with a place to find, build and share games---or breakout activities—that can be utilized to engage students in a variety of immersive learning games.

Founded in 2015 by James Sander and Mark Hammons, the site now features 800+ games that range from general interest topics such as the Totally Radical 80's Adventure to academic challenges in a variety of content areas including Math, Science, Social Studies, Language Arts and Computer Science to name a few.

Each game includes...

  • Description (Content Area, Ideal Group Size, Recommended Ages & Standards)
  • Story (Theme, Setting, Characters, Plot, etc.)
  • Setup Instructions
  • Lock Combinations
  • Game Overview Video
  • Game Resources (Typically a link to a Google folder)
  • Reflection Questions
  • Facilitation Tools (Game Timer, Introductory Presentation, Signage)
  • Additional Requirements (i.e. Computer with Internet access)

The site offers both physical, digital and hybrid games as well as a Digital Game Builder in which students and teachers can design their own content-aligned games for classroom sharing. (See additional info about the types of games below.)

Click here to learn more about accessing the resources on this platform. Information about purchasing Breakout EDU kits can also be found on this page.

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This sketchnote can be used with teachers and/or students as an introduction (or review) to emphasize the reasons why Breakout EDU activities are a meaningful addition to any classroom. It's also an excellent way to set the stage as students prepare for their first breakout experience.

Know Your Breakouts

Physical breakouts involve the use of actual items that students will find, manipulate and solve in order to unlock a piece of the game.

Digital breakouts involve finding, manipulating and solving puzzles electronically. Students unlock clues via one or more virtual locks. These locks are typically created using a template on the Breakout EDU site or a Google form.

Hybrid breakouts are games that rely on the combination of physical and digital components. They usually accommodate a few more players than a stand-alone physical or digital game.

Although the process is somewhat different, physical, digital and hybrid games all provide students with an engaging and challenging experience. Knowledge of these features can help educators determine what type of game would best suit their classroom needs.

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Got Entrepreneurs? We Do!

What do you get when you combine one of the hottest social trends with a passion for breakout activities and real-world experiences for kids? The Hidden Exit, an Escape Room business designed and built by Bellwood-Antis Tech Club students.

The Background:

During the summer of 2017, I was given the opportunity to partner with Real World Scholars, a non-profit organization that invites educators to engage learners in real-world application that drives curiosity, self-expression and the discovery of individual interests and passions. Real World Scholars provides an e-commerce platform called Education Corporation (EdCorp) that makes it possible for students to embark on an entrepreneurial adventure. In my case, it was building an escape room business with middle and high school students.

This experience has allowed my students to dive deep into a topic of interest and make a real-world impact with their academic work. In the process, they have developed the in-demand skills needed to be successful beyond the classroom.

The Result:

After working with 19 students over the course of eight months to develop (from scratch) an authentic escape room adventure set in the ‘70s, we launched a business that operates during school hours for students and in the evenings and on weekends for the general public.

The Hidden Exit: Can You Escape?

Your logic, creativity and problem solving skills will be put to the test as you race against the clock to Escape the ‘70s. Your team will have sixty minutes to solve a series of fun yet challenging set of clues, puzzles and riddles in order to reverse your one-way trip and get back to the future---before it’s too late! Can you escape this totally groovy era? Or will you be stuck in bell bottoms forever?

Check out one of our student generated marketing promos below!

Real World Scholars also produced a video about our business.

Hey, Dude! Meet Our Game Masters

The job of a Game Master is unlike any other! While in this role, students perform a number of tasks that are essential for a successful business. These duties include…

  • Setting up the escape room for each new game session and ensuring all props are in proper working order
  • Greeting participants and instructing them about the rules of the game as well as relaying the backstory
  • Providing a unique and immersive experience for our customers
  • Monitoring the game, answering questions and providing hints while our customers are trying to breakout of the room
  • Ensuring an unforgettably fun and exciting experience for our customers

Our totally rad Game Masters have successfully monitored a number of escape room adventures to the ‘70s. Check ‘em out below!

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In the News

Reporter Karina Cheung took a trip back to the '70s with our SWAT Team and then gave us a shout on on WTAJ-TV. Read the feature story about our escape room business and/or watch the news segment here.
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Adventure Lives Here!

Unique themed puzzles... Mind-bending clues... Engaging challenges... Need additional info about our flashback to the ‘70s? Check out the flyer shown below!

Get Your Xscape On!

Do have a passion for escape rooms and breakout activities? Are you interested in providing students with real-world, authentic and deeper learning experiences? Are you looking for ways to ensure your students are future ready? Do you want to challenge your students to become critical thinkers and problem solvers? Would you like your students to demonstrate perseverance and grit?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you’re ready to become an Xscape EDU™ Warrior!

Sounds super cool! But what exactly does this mean?

Xscape EDU™ is a fairly new network of innovative educators who want to engage students in escape room game design. Our primary goal is to give students the opportunity to develop original breakout adventures that can be shared with their peers. The ultimate objective is to use this platform to launch student competitions within a classroom, school and/or district – and beyond!

Keep scrolling to learn more about the benefits of sparking interest and motivating students in this manner!

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Real World

Middle school Tech Club members designed a Christmas themed breakout game for our Media Center. In addition to developing a variety of clues, they also learned the basics of electricity as the final clue involved completing a circuit to light the tree—and win the game!

When Learning is Fun!

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But Wait... There's More!

Not only have SWAT Team/Tech Club students been instrumental in promoting the escape room concept throughout our district, they have also assisted with the development and facilitation of various games that have been utilized for professional learning purposes.
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Become an Xscape EDU Warrior!

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The 2019 Xscape Xtravaganza

Last May a very adventurous group of nearly 100 educators and students in the Intermediate Unit 8 region came together to participate in the first-ever Xscape Xstravaganza, a showcase highlighting original student games. Check out the variety of super cool mini-escape room designs that represented the work of students in Grades 4-12 from six different school districts below!

Become A Lock Star!

Check out the must-see video highlighting the first annual Xscape Xstravaganza below!
Xscape EDU Promo

Students Learn Skills Creating Puzzles

When students have the opportunity to create authentic escape room games, the result is.. Unbelievable! Read all about it here!

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A Sneak Peek Into X2 2020

Xciting News: It's full STEAM ahead as we prepare for the 2020 Xscape Xstravaganza scheduled for March 20. With 20 teams from six school districts participating, we are looking forward to another most Xcellent event!

Get a sneak preview of a few of the super cool games that are being developed for the 2nd Annual event shown below...

Our Latest Invention...

The BAMS Tech Club crew of Kole, Shawna and Vincent recently built a super spook-tacular Halloween/Day of the Dead themed mini escape room game for third grade students at Myers Elementary. Aside from lots of creepy clues, puzzles and riddles, our latest game is full of surprises that have scared players to death!

Can you save yourself before the half-hour expires---or will you be stuck in the afterlife forever?

Check out the super cool learning that took place while building, facilitating and playing this game by viewing the video shown below...

Xscape EDU: Back From the Dead

OK, I'm hooked on this concept! Where do I go from here?

Locate a breakout game to play with one (or more) of your classes. Using one of the freebies on the Breakout EDU site is a great place to start. The Breakout EDU Facebook Page is another fabulous resource in which teachers share ideas, games and integration information. Additional resources to kick start your Xscape EDU adventure include...

Winthrop University

Teachers Pay Teachers

Download and/or purchase tons of pre-made games, activities, templates & related materials!

Collections of Resources

Once you feel comfortable playing breakout activities with your students, use the following resources to take breakouts to the next level with student creation of games...

Student-Created Breakout EDU Games By Mari Venturino

Getting Smart: How to Create a Breakout Room Activity in Your Classroom

10 Awesome Supplies for Classroom Escape Room Activities

Official Breakout EDU Game Template

Game Design Tutorials

How to Create a Lock Combination Activity with Google Forms

If you're the adventours type, you can even take your students on a field trip to an escape room. Yeah, I did that.....Twice!

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Tips & Tricks

Here are a few strategies that have helped my Tech Club crew and I build successful games...

DIY Resources

Use the following resources to build an original game that enhances classroom content. And be sure to share these resources with your students so they can have the opportunity to design and build curricular-based activities as well!

Included are some of my favorite online generators that can be used to create all sorts of super cool puzzles, riddles and clues...

What the Experts are Saying...

Share the Love!

Spread the news about the Xscape EDU™ movement with your colleagues by sharing the informational flyers attached below. Let's create a network of like-minded educators who are passionate about giving students authentic learning experiences!
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Connect with Us!

Challenges, competitions, workshops, activities and resources... Stay tuned into the latest Xscape EDU™ happenings by following our social media pages: Twitter & Facebook!

XscapeEDU Swag

Want one of these super cool stickers? Share an experience on social media highlighting your students developing breakout clues or games, and we’ll send some swag your way! Be sure to include the #XscapeEDU hashtag in your post!

Looking forward to seeing how your "Xscape" the Classroom with you students!

Still Got Questions?

If you have... Questions about Xscape EDU™, would like additional info about joining this movement and/or would like to book a professional learning session, please contact me---or one of these Xscape EDU™ Warriors:

Renee Jamison - Tyrone Area Elementary

Janet Moore - Hollidaysburg Area Jr. High School

Michelle Marasco - Tyrone Area High School

Tiffany Smith - Tyrone Area High School

Jamie Forshey

Director of Instructional Technology & Media

Bellwood-Antis School District

Bellwood, PA