Escape Rooms in CS Classrooms

One of the most challenging aspects of teaching computer programming to novice students is finding a way to help them feel successful and give them immediate feedback. Additionally, coding can feel for many students like drudgery if not sprinkled with at least light moments and fun activities. There are great offline activities developed by hundreds of educators worldwide, the most well-known being from CS Unplugged. In order to create a more interesting student experience and summative assessment, I have developed “Escape Room” type lessons where students have to solve a number of puzzles in 45 minutes or less in order to win a prize. Along the way, students have to use the coding skills that they have developed over the previous few weeks in order to solve most of the puzzles; the solutions to the puzzles reveal alphanumerical or color codes that are the answers to combination locks or other ways to obscure the next step. In a video that I will produce, I will share all of the materials that I have developed for three full Escape Rooms, walking viewers through all of the materials that I use, ways to obtain the materials, lessons learned from implementation, general strategies for creating puzzles on your own, and an opportunity to decode some of the puzzles.

Google Slides:

John Dutton has been teaching for 17 years, including two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Mozambique. John currently teaches computer science at MC2STEM High School, having recently joined the team after five years as a science and computer science teacher at Campus International High School, and a decade at Shaw High School. Prior to teaching, John spent 10 years in the computer and software industry. He believes that computer science education is critical to help all learners develop analytical and marketable skills for college, career, and beyond. In 2022, John was elected president of CSTA Ohio, which serves to develop a supportive knowledge-sharing network of computer science teachers statewide. John is a member of the Moreland Neighborhood Network, and co-produces the Witness to History program, recording life stories of longtime Moreland residents. John is a year-round bicycle commuter, and has brought that experience into his classroom with a bike-building engineering project for his students.