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How to Create an Escape Room for Students: A Guide to Engaging Learning Adventures

21 Aug 2023

Escape rooms have become incredibly popular for their ability to transport participants into thrilling and immersive scenarios. These interactive experiences challenge individuals to solve puzzles, work as a team, and think critically under pressure to escape within a set time frame. As educators, you can harness the excitement of escape rooms to create educational and engaging experiences for students. In this guide, we’ll explore how to design an escape room tailored for students, fostering their creativity, problem-solving skills, and collaboration while making learning fun.

How to create an escape room for students


Steps to Create an Escape Room for Students

So, you’re here to learn how to create an escape room for students. It’s easier than you might think! Follow these seven steps to create an engaging learning experience for your students.

It’s important to note that even conventional escape rooms that aren’t designed to be educational are still great learning opportunities! So if designing your own escape room feels daunting, you can always find one that already exists and build your lesson around it.

Step 1: Define the Educational Objective

Before diving into designing an escape room, it’s essential to define clear learning objectives. Identify the specific skills or knowledge you want students to gain from the experience. Whether it’s reinforcing historical events, teaching math concepts, or enhancing communication skills, the educational objective will serve as the foundation of your escape room design.

Step 2: Choose an Engaging Theme

Select a theme that resonates with your student’s interests while aligning with the educational objective. Themes can range from historical periods to science-fiction adventures or even literary worlds. Engaging themes not only captivate students’ attention but also make learning more relatable and enjoyable.

Looking to teach an escape room you don’t have to create yourself? You can craft a lesson from even the most outrageous themes. While some escape rooms are more obviously educational (for example, 60out’s Time Machine escape room focuses on Nikola Tesla), and other escape rooms may present hidden opportunities for lessons. For example, perhaps you can learn about jungle ecology after playing the Jumanji room or about the history of ocean exploration after playing Nautilus. You’ll need to get a little creative, but there’s an escape room for nearly every subject!

Step 3: Craft Engaging Puzzles and Challenges

Puzzles are the heart of an escape room. Create a variety of puzzles that align with the theme and educational goal. Incorporate puzzles that require critical thinking, problem-solving, teamwork, and knowledge application. Consider incorporating hands-on activities, riddles, logic puzzles, and even augmented reality elements to keep students fully engaged throughout the experience.

Example Puzzle: A math-based lock puzzle where students solve algebraic equations to find the combination.

Step 4: Develop a Narrative

A well-crafted storyline enhances the escape room experience, immersing students in the world you’ve created. Develop a compelling narrative that sets the scene, introduces the challenge, and motivates students to complete their mission. The narrative should connect to the educational content seamlessly, making it an integral part of the student’s journey.

Example Narrative: Students are explorers discovering a lost civilization, using their knowledge of geography and culture to navigate challenges.

Step 5: Design Immersive Sets and Props

Immerse students in the escape room’s theme with carefully designed sets and props. Create a realistic environment that complements the narrative and enhances the overall experience. Consider using technology, lighting effects, and soundscapes to add an extra layer of excitement to the escape room.

Step 6: Test and Refine

Before unveiling the escape room to your students, test it thoroughly with a group of colleagues or friends. Observe their interactions, note any challenges or ambiguities, and gather feedback. Use this information to refine and improve the escape room’s puzzles and design.

Step 7: Facilitate Learning During and After

During the escape room experience, act as a facilitator rather than an instructor. Allow students to explore and work through challenges independently while providing guidance when needed. After the escape room, debrief with the students to discuss the educational content, teamwork, and problem-solving strategies they used during the activity.

Example Clues and Materials for Creating Your Own Escape Room for Students

Here are a few educational puzzle ideas with the materials you’ll need:

Invisible Ink Messages: Write messages or clues with lemon juice on paper. Students can reveal the hidden text by gently heating the paper, teaching them about chemical reactions and historical secret communication methods.

  • Materials: Lemon juice, Q-tips or paintbrushes for writing, light bulbs or other gentle heat sources to reveal the message.

Jigsaw Puzzle Maps: Create a jigsaw puzzle of a historical map or a diagram relevant to your lesson. Once assembled, the map can reveal locations where students can find their next clue or a piece of the puzzle necessary to "escape".

  • Materials: Printed map or diagram on cardstock, jigsaw puzzle maker or scissors to cut the map into pieces.

Mathematical Cipher Locks: Use combination locks that require students to solve math problems to find the correct numbers. This can range from basic arithmetic to complex equations, depending on the grade level.

  • Materials: Combination locks, math problem worksheets or cards.

Literary Scavenger Hunt: Place quotes from a book or literary work around the room, with each quote leading to the next. The final quote could lead to a hidden book that contains the key to escape, encouraging reading comprehension and analytical thinking. You can incorporate math problems and page numbers, as well.

  • Materials: Printed quotes, the book or text from which the quotes are taken.

Historical Artifact Analysis: Provide students with replicas of historical artifacts related to your theme. They must use their knowledge of the period to deduce the significance of each artifact and how it leads to the next clue.

  • Materials: Replica artifacts, informational cards or booklets about each artifact.

Science Experiment to Reveal Clues: Set up a simple, safe science experiment that students must perform correctly to reveal their next clue. This could involve mixing non-toxic chemicals to change colors, creating a simple electrical circuit, or using magnets to uncover hidden messages.

  • Materials: Basic lab equipment (beakers, test tubes), safe chemicals for reactions, instructions for the experiment.

Multimedia Puzzles: Use audio recordings or videos as part of the clue trail. For instance, record a historical figure’s speech with a hidden message or create a short documentary clip that hints at the next step. To take it one step further, you can set up motion sensors so that the recording plays automatically when students trigger it!

  • Materials: Audio player or computer, pre-recorded audio or video clips.

Geography Quest: Incorporate a world map where students must pinpoint locations based on geographical clues. Each correct location could have a letter that, when combined, spells out the code to a lock.

  • Materials: World map, geographical clue cards or sheets, lock.

60out’s Escape Rooms: Lots of Fun, with Learning on the Side

If you’re looking to give your students or children a memorable learning adventure, consider 60out’s escape rooms. With our extensive experience in creating immersive escape room experiences, we ensure that your kids have a blast while learning something new.

Our state-of-the-art escape rooms are carefully crafted to engage minds of all ages. They also foster essential skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity. While the primary focus is on fun and excitement, students will develop problem-solving abilities and improve their ability to work as a team along the way.

Read more: Study Shows How Educational Escape Rooms Can Be Used to Teach Science.