Anna Moschella and Samantha Vanderhoof at work

Poor Cupid. The god of love finds himself trapped in a room on Valentine’s Day, his busiest day of the year. His only hope is the Mountain View fifth-graders who can rescue him if their math, language arts, and problem-solving skills are strong. But there are only 45 minutes on the clock. It’s a race against time and the fate of love hangs in the balance.

That was the scenario of an escape room/break-out challenge put together by the school’s fifth grade teachers. Teams of three or four students worked to use their academic knowledge and ingenuity to solve a series of math problems and language arts exercises. The teams solved word problems involving fractions, determined the meaning of words using context clues, and found the value of symbols using algebraic equations. The correct answers were used to solve puzzles that led each team to the combination of a lock on a safe box which represented the captive Cupid’s room.

A riddle started each team off and provided the clue to the location of a key hidden in the classroom. The key unlocked a book safe with the tasks that needed to be completed. 

“Escape rooms reinforce skills learned in different subject areas and encourage students to think critically,” said teacher Anessa Goldkind. “They also help kids to develop life skills such as teamwork, problem-solving, and perseverance.”

To successfully work out the clues and puzzles, the students also employed a number of tools such as UV flashlights which were used to read invisible ink.

“It was a fun and intense experience,” said student Jett Davis.

This was the first escape room done by the fifth grade this school year. Jen Olsyn, the school’s instructional supervisor, brought the idea of academic escape rooms to Mountain View a year ago. The Flanders PTA provided a grant to purchase thenecessary materials such as plastic lock boxes, safes disguised as books, and cipher wheels.

Chloe Winters tries to open a lock on the safe box

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