So a couple of years ago I became fascinated by this game on the iPad called The Room. It was quite succesful, has resulted in a sequel, and chocked up numerous rave reviews for maintaining delicate balance between simplistic concept yet staggering level of complexity. The premise is simple: you are locked in a room and must search out clues to piece together your escape.
When I first heard about Exit last year in an article in one of our local daily papers, I immediately thought of the implications for a field trip. As a high school computer science teacher, field trips are seldom considered. Booking a field trip at the high school level is much more complex than in earlier grades. Students need to jump through a variety of hoops as they end up missing classes from multiple teachers and the hassle is seldom worth the reward.
I felt confident that this experience, however, would be worth the trouble. The great reviews I read online, coupled with personal testimonials from friends that had been there reinforced my idea that the experience would be a great way to validate some of the key learning objectives from my computer programming class. These objectives namely being the delicate art of collaboration, problem solving, critical thinking, observation, and methodical evaluation. These are all skills that a good computer programmer needs to embody. Exit created the perfect environment for collaboration and allowed groups to work together to achieve a common goal.
The accommodating team at E-Exit agreed to open the facility two hours early just for our class. When we arrived, they were ready and waiting for us. We were given an informative description of the rules of the game and we were then broken down into groups of 6. Each group went to a different puzzle room: Ancient Egypt, The Lab, Prison Escape, or the Sunken Ship.
I personally experienced both the Ancient Egypt and The Lab rooms. Each one had an outstanding mix of practical clues and high tech wizardry that had us all impressed. I will avoid further specifics of each so as not to ruin the experience should you choose to go yourselves.
At the end of the sessions, not one group had managed to solve the puzzle yet nobody cared! The experience was worth it and the group dynamics were positive experiences for everyone involved. The bus ride home was full of chatter as students described their experiences and discussed alternative strategies that they would use on a future visit. I couldn’t ask for anything more than that. Overall, it was a fantastic experience and I would highly recommend taking a visit to Exit. It would make a great outing with friends or a fantastic experience for secondary students. I think the puzzles would likely be too complex for middle school students or younger but with the limited opportunities for high school field trips, you should definitely put this at the top of your list.
The following day, I asked the students to provide me with some feedback on their day. I asked them how they could connect their experience back to what we have been learning in our classroom. I will share some of their comments with you now.
Students comment on their trip to Exit
“E-Exit requires logic sense, the ability to analyse messages, and some mathematical skills, which are useful in Programming field.”
“Everything done has a reaction to the room and how everything works. With programming.. every step fixes andadvances you through to the next step. When programmer or exiting the room you must evaluate and use mental power and a way of trial and error to solve everything.”
“I liked how everybody could work together and have a say on the matter and just have an amazing time doing so and finding out clues as to the next step in the adventure.”
“Programming is perplexing. It’s almost like keying a passcode into a lock to escape from a room when given clues- it never works the first time and you have to keep trying until you feel like pulling all your hair out.”
“I really enjoyed it! The puzzles were well thought out and prepared. They weren’t childish and lame, but genuinely ingenius.”