Escape the Library: Egypt Edition was a success! As a way to introduce our 8th grade History students to their new research project on Egypt, we had a little fun with puzzles in the library. Students were broken into groups of 4-5 students, leaving us with 4 groups per class period. The groups were given the names Osiris, Set, Ra, and Horus named after the Egyptian gods of the underworld, war, sun, and sky.
Once in groups, students set off into their guarded room filled with 4 locked jars, scratch paper, a pencil, 3 hint cards, and an initial clue. Each lock required a bit of effort to find the key or the right number combination to open. From the start, students had to use the online catalog to locate a specific book on the shelf that held the physical key to their next locked jar. The second jar was bound with a number lock that opened with the correct year found in a particular World Book Online article about pyramid architect Imhotep. To unlock the next jar, students determined and transcribed the letter ‘B’ into a hieroglyph and presented it to their door’s guard. The guard provided a key to open the 3rd jar with one last clue.
Along the way, students discovered Bananagram tiles in their jars. With all jars open, students had to unscramble the tiles letters and run to their door’s guard with the final password (“sphinx,” “embalm,” “papyrus,” or “artifact”). If a team stumbled and got stuck, they were allowed 3 hints from their door guard – but this came at a cost. Every hint added 1 minute to their final time. With only 30 minutes to escape the library, the pressure mounted! In the end, every team escaped, with times ranging from 17 to 30 minutes.
Students learned 1) where to locate the online catalog, 2) what information to use in the catalog to locate a book, 3) how the library is set up, 4) where to locate online databases, and 5) how to use key terms to search a database. It was fun to take a step back and let the kids struggle a bit to figure out the clues then work together to succesfully solve the puzzles and escape!