Students in Years 7, 8 and 9 had a spectacularly spooky Project Day event creating escape rooms to celebrate Halloween. The escape rooms gave the students a chance to become puzzle makers and use mathematics strategies in their challenging rooms.
"The Maths and Computing and Engineering departments developed this exciting learner profile project as a fantastic introduction to our project learning days," said BISW Assistant Head of Lower Secondary Rachel White-Hunt. "The BISW Learner Profile Diploma supports students across a wide range of IB learner profile attributes and offers students a chance to collect evidence from home and school to gain their bronze, silver, and gold diploma over their lower secondary time."
Ms White-Hunt explained that the project learning days linked with the diploma offer allow students to explore cross-curricular stimuli in an exciting, engaging way that challenges their understanding of the learner profile traits and what they might mean. These learner profile traits are inquirers, knowledge, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced and reflective.
"The days also tap into the lower secondary brain and all that it craves in its development at this stage," she said. "Students can log many different elements of the project days in their diploma journal on ManageBac, all of which builds up to a celebration assembly and learning reflection at the end of the academic year."
BISW Head of Mathematics Eleanor Bram shared similar sentiments about this exciting venture. For her, the highlight of the event was seeing students engaging throughout the experience.
"Enjoyment in teaching and learning was not just aspirational this week, but a reality!" Ms Bram said. "In the Year 7, 8 and 9 classrooms, students were engrossed in building, designing, drawing, creating and developing their escape rooms. They were buzzing with creativity as they thought through all the details to produce a successful event."
Ms Bram explained that the students designed puzzles using their maths and IT skills, and they even created storylines, themes and artwork for their rooms.
"They've had to think through at every point how everything will link together," she said. "They have collaborated in small groups, using the variety of skills they each bring while listening to one another and exchanging ideas."
Ms Bram noted that the experience was by no means easy, but the year groups stepped up to the task and had enormous fun along the way. In the end, they created a wonderful experience for everyone to enjoy.
"It has been incredible to see the students take on this challenge," said Mathematics Teacher Matthew McGrath, who explained that the students were all engaged and creative throughout the process. "Students across all three lower secondary years used puzzles that incorporated ciphers, hidden messages, morse code and riddles—just to name a few devilishly tricky problems. They've had to problem solve, ensure a link between the puzzles and keep the room itself running smoothly. We can all agree it has been no small task."
Computer and Technology Teacher David Williams also had great things to say about the Project Day experience. He also shared some specific details about what the students had to do and skills they had to rely upon to complete their escape rooms.
"Students across the 7 to 9 curriculum have used the skills they have been learning in class to assist in the design of their escape rooms," Mr Williams explained. "For example, Year 7 designed props, traps and clues in CAD software and then 3D printed them. Year 8 designed interactive puzzles coded in Microsoft MakeCode. Year 9 coded the BBC Micro:bits and 3D design and made interactive animation."
Mr Williams explained that one of the best parts of the curriculum at BISW is the students' access to project-based learning, which lets them take the learning from one subject and apply it across other subjects or for a specific task. He described it as a freedom and opportunity that makes BISW unique.
"In the Computing Science lessons," Mr Williams said, "Students are ahead of the traditional National Curriculum and have access to many more opportunities because of the continual investment from the school. To see these facilities used organically and applied as a true education is a great honour, and it really allows the community of our wonderful students to shine. It also reaffirms that once a topic has been delivered in school, it is not over. Seeing students apply skills learned two or more years ago is a delight."
Mathematics Teacher Brodie Burton agreed that the experience challenged the students to use many skills at once to develop something special.
"During this experience, the students used teamwork skills to tackle problems, projects and pursuits," Ms Burton said. "They worked in a reverse direction and thought from the perspective of the problem solver before becoming the creator, which let them analyse the process involved in completing the escape room."
Ms Burton added that each group showed individuality and uniquely tackled the project. For example, the teams opted to work as either one large group or a smaller gathering of puzzle masters.
"Furthermore, throughout the process, the students persevered through many challenges," Ms Burton added. "For example, they untangled an enormous spiderweb, which you can see in the photo below!"
The day was a rousing success, and the students loved creating their unique rooms. Ms White-Hunt expressed thanks to the team of teachers who organised the event, as the preparation for the day itself spanned weeks of classwork leading up to the big moment when people could finally try out the escape rooms. She also promised other exciting project learning days to come.