Breakout EDU Coaching
Before Every Breakout Session:
- Organize your desk or work area so everyone can enjoy the challenge.
- You will need your Chromebook.
- You will need to put all food and drink away to avoid spills and messes.
- You should place all of your personal papers and books into a neat, stable stack or inside desks so clues, locks, keys, or other mystery objects are not hidden or lost.
- Unless there are directions on the sheet or from the teacher, please do not draw or mark on cards, papers, or puzzles included in the Breakout challenge; these will be used by other classes, so marking clues may steal their joy of discovery (or give them an advantage, making them appear smarter and quicker than you in solving the puzzle)
Scanning now . . .
Get a QR scanner to explore website links
during Breakout EDU challenges:
Review the details to ensure you are getting the app you need, then "add to Chrome."
If your school technology procedures or settings do not allow you to add apps,
use the "Search" bar with the letter of the box and Breakout topic instead.
Frequent Frustrations: The Directional Lock
As exciting and unusual as it is, student teams often become frustrated with the directional lock portion of some challenges. Some tips--
- Review the short video below
- Remember to press or squeeze the shackle ("U"-shaped piece) into the lock body twice before trying a new combination series.
- Some sequences may be long and complex. Using scratch paper to lay out the sequence may help.
- The spring that returns the center knob to the neutral position may catch, leaving the knob off center--extra effort to nudge it back to center may be detected as a push in the opposite direction. Squeezing the shackle twice and starting the sequence again may help.
- Narrating your actions aloud using slow and deliberate motions may help: "Left, Left, Up, Up."
- Follow the "Rule of Threes": make three attempts, then graciously give a teammate an opportunity to succeed. By the same rule, you should ensure teammates have their three attempts free of shouted advice or interference.
Frequent Frustrations: Ciphers and Hidden Writing
During the challenge, there may be QR code links or puzzle activities where you may complete the task but it is not clear what you should do next. Be on the lookout for other information or graphics on the map, page, web page, or card. This may be in cipher form or in hidden writing.
Hidden Writing: While most of the puzzles or challenges can be solved with persistence and careful observation, from time to time additional clues or shortcuts may be revealed if you shine a little (ultraviolet) light on the subject (cards, maps, pages of text), or highlight a portion of the web page. For some puzzles, a hint in the form of an image of a lighthouse or scenes of illumination from popular science fiction or fantasy stories may tip you off to light it up!
Nothing to See Here . . . Or Is There?
Pig Pen Cipher: Any time a friendly pig or alien being is trying to communicate with you, chances are it is a variety of Pig Pen Cipher. Links to cipher-to-plaintext charts and computer programs to help you translate are here:
Caesar Shift Cipher: Any time a Roman soldier, classical statuary, or a short guy in a toga is saying something, it is likely a Caesar Shift Cipher. A "shift" cipher uses the alphabet you are already familiar with to hide a message. By rotating two alphabet disks so new combinations of letters line up, a message can stay hidden until the information no longer needs to be secret. Sometimes it is referred to as a wheel or rotation cipher (ROT13 means shift letters by 13, so "ABC" would now be "NOP"). Links to cipher-to-plaintext charts and computer programs to help you translate are here:
Frequent Frustrations: Student Puzzle Designers
Some students are brave enough to explore creating their own challenges for friends, family, and classmates. This is a path to new skills and appreciation for a well-designed game if students use organization and persistence. Sketching out your initial ideas, planning a series of linked puzzles (where the clue to the next challenge is revealed at the end of the present problem) in a flow chart, and keeping careful notes of lock settings can help you avoid frustration and disappointment.
The Word Lock
The classroom set of 5-letter word locks includes the following 5 discs or rings in fixed positions. We may eventually get access to the Breakout EDU designed locks that have rings that can be placed in different order or substituted. For now, having a word in mind and skimming the possible letters on each disc is a quick way to check whether your planned clue will work for the equipment we have.
Creating a Cipher Lock or Language Translation Challenge: We have also created a list of all possible combinations using Scratch programming and are looking through it for useful words relevant to our studies. This list includes all possible combinations, so it is very long, but it may be useful if you plan to encipher your 5-letter word using Caesar Shift or languages other than English for an added level of challenge.