School Break (SB) aims to explore the possibilities of school students learning through playing and designing escape room game type educational experiences. The title ‘School Break’ thus plays with the two meanings of ‘break’, i.e. escape and recreation/play.
Escape rooms are a relatively new entertainment form in which small groups of players work together over a set time (usually an hour) to solve puzzles and escape a real life locked room. There is increasing interest in their pedagogic use as they provide an authentic, motivating activating context for problem-solving, support small group collaboration, and let participants learn through exploration and experimentation. As well as supporting the development of cross-curricular skills – such as problem-solving, teamwork, and lateral thinking, which are also the focus of different EU education policies (cf. e.g. “Key Competences for Lifelong learning” or “Improving Competences for the 21st Century”) – escape rooms can also be designed to meet specific curriculum goals.
This project makes the assumptions that collaborative problem-solving and design supports teamwork, communication skills, and creativity, while the playful and open-ended nature of the task, in a safe space supports measured risk-taking, creativity and innovation.
We hypothesise that playing and designing escape rooms will achieve three objectives: 1) increased student engagement; 2) learning discipline-specific knowledge; and 3) developing connected cross-curricula skills, in particular problem-solving, teamwork, and creativity.