Marist High School was recently awarded a $2000 partnership grant with Blue Island Public Library sponsored by Reaching Across Illinois Library System (RAILS). The project is BreakoutEDU which is styled after the popular Escape Room games in which there is a scenario necessitating all participants to solve puzzles and clues to escape (or open a box or find their way out of a maze or solve a mystery, etc.)
"The sky is truly the limit with how to utilize this for education," Marist Media Specialist Kristin Rademacher, who wrote the grant application, said. "Math, history, science, language arts, visual arts, coding, maker spaces can all be a part of this." There are thousands of already-built scenarios for over a dozen subjects, customizable for K-12. New ones are being added to the BreakOut community daily. Many schools and public libraries incorporate designing games into part of their programs so kids and teens are participatory in the creation of unique scenarios as well.
"BreakOut EDU is one of the best formats I’ve ever come across in 10 years of teaching," Rademacher said. "It is inclusive, customizable, and, for the kids, highly addictive in a wonderful way." Students love playing these games even as they are challenged to solve math, learn and navigate geography, read and solve literary clues, understand and solve science problems, translate foreign languages, create and design code of their own and so much more. They are learning and applying what they have learned and reinforcing content.
Marist will hold a launch event on March 20 for its students and the Blue Island Library community. Details will be posted. Following the event, Rademacher hopes to train teachers on using this tool for engaged learning.