A breakout task is an activity that brings the escape room experience into the classroom. BreakoutEDU has been a major player in this space, designing kits and activities for this platform, and served as the primary inspiration for this activity. This Conservation of Energy Breakout is my second attempt at creating a breakout task that is focused on giving students a rich experience with the content. See my post about the Circuits Breakout for another example like this.
This task gets pretty involved to try to digest all at once (it is designed to take a group of students 40 minutes to complete after all!) so I have split the explanation into the 6 locks that must be cracked before the students can get the prize that is hidden in the main box. The clues are prepared in such a way that, while there are several paths that students can take, they don't have all the clues that they need for each lock right away. I have outlined the overall flow of the 6 different locks in the diagram below. As you can see, some of the necessary items needed to unlock the number locks and keyed padlock are obtained only once the small box has been unlocked.
Lock #1 - Word Lock
Lock #2 - Small Box
Lock #3 - 4 Digit Number Lock
Once they find all of the missing energy values, all they need to do is follow the clue and rank them from smallest to largest. On the back of each card is a shape. Counting the corners in this ranked order provides the combination for the 4 digit combination lock.
The three triangle clues used for lock #2 are also puzzle pieces to complete a QR code. Of course, the QR code won't work until they have all of the pieces and the fourth piece is found in the small box. The colored outlines are there to help students assemble the puzzle correctly. Once they have the pieces assembled, the code takes them to a google site with information about the diver's impact velocity
The final piece of information that is required is the mass of the diver. The line up of people is taped to the back of the large box but the group doesn't know which mass to use until they find the final triangle clue in the small box. This clue is simply a picture of the person, and it is up to the group to make the connection that this is the same person as the diver in the problem
With the impact velocity and the mass, it should be possible to use the conservation of energy to solve for the missing kinetic energy.
Lock #5 - Keyed Masterlock 1
Lock #6 - Keyed Masterlock 2
Since this breakout was designed to be used in several different levels of classes, there are two versions of this clue. Level 1 is a simple conservation of energy ramp question where students need to find the missing energy while Level 2 requires more calculation to find the velocity of a roller coaster at a certain location. Note that these two sets of problems do not lead to the same answers so there are different envelope values needed. All of that information can be found in the set up section below.
Note: if you want to shorten the length of the breakout task, this clue is the easiest one to get rid of because it doesn't interact with any of the other clue paths.
Printing out the Clues
I knew going into this task that I wanted to make something that I could use over and over without a huge reset between class periods. Because of this, I chose to print out all of the clues on card stock and laminate everything with my handy thermal laminator. Of course, it would work just fine on regular paper as well. Just be prepared to have sets of clues to refill the boxes if you are doing this for multiple classes in a row. I wouldn't expect that you will be able to reuse any of the printouts from class to class because it's almost guaranteed that someone will write on them even if instructed not to. This was another great benefit of the lamination because students were able to write on the clues with a dry erase marker or Vis-a-Vis wet erase transparency marker and wipe it clean at the end of class.
Here are the files in pdf and powerpoint formats organized by clue groups. A couple things to keep in mind:
Setting up the Breakout Box
All of the components required are part of the official BreakoutEDU kit that you can purchase for ~$150 from their website. If that pricetag is hard to swallow, I have written up some more information about building your own breakout kit sourcing from Amazon. In my blog post, I outline how I made 9 kits for under $70 per kit.
Outside the Big Box:
Inside the Small Box:
To help ensure that that there is agreement with the clue, the solution, and the key, it is important that you put the right clue in each box. This works best if you have the boxes numbered so you can keep track of everything. Each level of the clue has the group number hidden in the problem.
On the Table:
On the Front Whiteboard (or other central location):
Set your Locks:
Lock it Down:
Use the Lockout hasp to lock the big box with Work Lock, 4-Digit Numlock, 3-Digit Numlock, and two keyed Masterlocks
Time to Escape!
What my students loves most about this activity was that I didn't give them any guidance or instructions. I'm pretty sure all that I said was:
"There is a prize for your group inside the big box on your table. You must work together to solve the clues and get inside"
Resetting the Box
Below you will find a .zip file of the digital (PDF and editable) files needed for this breakout task. All of the files are included individually in the sections above as well but it's nice to get everything in one tidy package!
Please leave a comment or contact me directly if you have any questions about this activity or setting up your own breakout box escape room activity. I'm excited to continue adding more in the future so I can get some more value out of these kits!
Download an outline of this task (essentially a printer friendly version of this blog post)
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