Tag Archives: BreakoutEDU

Exponential and Logarithmic Equations Breakout

Last year I created a mini breakout on solving exponential and logarithmic equations.  This year, the other Pre-AP Algebra 2 teacher at my school decided added to the breakout to include finding inverses of exponential and logarithmic equations.


Pearland High School – population 2985 – has been infiltrated by zombies.

It started with one zombie.  In ten minutes, there were 25 zombies.  After 15 minutes, there were 625 zombies.  If this rate continues, the entire student body will be zombies in 30 minutes.

But YOU can stop the zombie attack.  The antidote is locked in this box!  You have 30 minutes to decipher the codes and retrieve the antidote.  It’s as simple as moving left, down, up, right!  Can you break out in time to stop the zombies from taking over Pearland High School?


I placed all three locks (directional, 4-digit, and 4-letter lock) on a hasp attached to one box.  I projected and read the story to the class and asked each group to get an envelope with the clues from me.

Envelope with Color Clue

4-Digit Lock Clues

Solving Equations Clues

4-Letter Lock Clues

Inverses Clues

Several of the groups placed the envelope on an empty desk or up-side-down, so they did not notice the color clue that told them what to do with the solutions to the solving equations clues and inverses clues.  As a hint for groups that requested one, I indicated that they needed to pay attention to the paper on the front of the envelope.

The other teacher placed each lock on a separate box.  She gave each group the story and the color clue that would be used with the other two sets of clues.  The students had to open the directional lock to get the clues for the 4-digit lock.  Then they had to open the 4-digit lock to get the clues for the 4-letter lock.

Groups had 30 minutes to solve the clues to breakout and not become a Zombie.


In my classes, 13 out of 22 groups became “Zombies.”  However, with an additional 15 minutes, only 2 group were unable to successfully breakout.

In the other teachers classes, 1 group became “Zombies.”

I believe the reason my students were less “successful” was because they did not know what to do with all the clues.  Each group “divided and conquered” to solve the exponential and logarithmic equations and find the inverses, but they did not understand which cards went with each lock.  I watched multiple groups switch cards with their teammates to have them check their work, so they had the right answers.

In the other teacher’s class, the students were presented with one set of clues at a time.  Once they had figured out what to do for the 4-digit lock, they were able to transfer that knowledge to decode the clues for the 4-letter lock.



Breakout EDU with the TI-Nspire

In March, I will be presenting “Breakout EDU with the TI-Nspire” at the Texas Instruments International Conference in Chicago, IL.

Breakout EDU brings the escape room experience to the classroom by creating ultra-engaging learning games for people of all ages. Games (Breakouts) teach teamwork, problem solving, critical thinking, and troubleshooting by presenting participants with challenges that ignite their natural drive to problem-solve. Participants will use the features of the TI-Nspire, including geometry tools, regressions, matrices, and sliders, to complete a series of challenges, reveal clues, and unlock mysteries in order to win the game. This session will begin with a short introduction, followed by playing the game, and will conclude with a short discussion about the game and how the activity can be used.

I had my department test out my game at our department meeting today.  Two of three groups were able to breakout.

group-1 group-2

The group that did not breakout gave me some feedback regarding their troubles.  I made a few changes to my presentation and clues that will hopefully allow all groups that participate in my session to successfully breakout.


About a month ago, I saw a tweet on Twitter referring to BreakoutEDU.  I opened the link to the blog post and was instantly intrigued.  The BreakoutEDU website was blocked by our school, so I had to use my cell phone to look at the site.  If you don’t sign up to be a beta tester, there isn’t much to see on the website other than an intro video and the supplies you would need to create your own breakout, if you don’t want to purchase their kit.  I signed up so that I could get the password to the games.  As soon as I had the chance, I went to my AP to share my enthusiasm with him regarding this new thing that I was going to try.


Unlike the BreakoutEDU kit, I really wanted multiple boxes so that instead of having all clues out in the open, students would have to open a box to get a clue to another box, ultimately opening all the boxes and breaking out.  I also knew that I wanted the boxes to nest for easy storage.  I knew that I could get my dad to make these boxes for me.

I let my dad in on my idea, and he delivered.

One box  Nesting boxes  Stacked boxes

I now have four sets of breakout boxes, each with five nesting boxes.

Building Anticipation

I brought two set of boxes up to school one weekend and set them at the front of the room.  Then I started leaving messages in small print on the board.  I put up things like

  • Have you ever been to an escape room?
  • My stickers are missing.
  • I need a UV flashlight.
  • May 24

A few of the classes paid attention to these little notes and asked about them.

Some days I would change the lock that was on the outside of the box, or put the large hasp on the box with all the locks.

About a week before we were schedule to go play our game, I un-nested the two sets of boxes that were in my room.  The Saturday before we were schedule to go play our game, I brought up one more set of boxes.  Now I really had their attention.  Where were all these boxes coming from?


Since it is the end of the school year, I decided to create my own game for our first breakout.  I made a game that would review concepts for the spring semester exam.  The topics included transformations of parent functions, simplifying expressions (exponent rules and radicals), solving equations (radical and logarithmic), and rationals (properties of their graph, simplifying, and solving).  Students were given 45 minutes and two hint cards.

Review breakout

We went to the lecture hall to play our first game on May 24.  The classes were divided into three groups each.  I started the timer, and let them go.  Every group used one of their hint cards to get them started.


After they had the first box open, there was no stopping them.


Every group, in every period, broke out!  Unfortunately, I didn’t get a video of any group opening their last box, but we did take pictures once they had opened their last box.  They also got a sticker for their success.  Believe it or not, high school students will do anything for a sticker.


The following day we did another breakout.  This time I used Dr. Johnson’s Lab from the BreakoutEDU website.  The setup only uses two boxes.  The big box has a hasp on it that can hold up to six locks.

Johnson setup

I only have two hasp, so we did boys versus girls.  I have mostly girls in all my classes, except for 5th period, which is pretty close to 50/50.  However, more heads did not lead to the girls breaking out faster than the boys.  Except for first period, the boys broke out before the girls.


Feedback from the students was that they really enjoyed the breakouts.