Can Problem Solving Be….Fun?

March 1, 2017

Jessica Sharp, Director of District and School Development

What do you get when you combine rooms of 40 school leaders, six locks, a handful of frustrating red herrings, and George Wendt? Breakout EDU, Spring Summit edition!

Breakout EDU is an immersive activity that asks players to solve a series of critical thinking puzzles to open a locked box. NTN’s Director of School Leadership, Jen Benkovitz, crafted a series of clues to confound Summit participants—and gave them a mere 45 minutes to “break out.”

Some teams approached the work quietly, poring over their clues with studious intention. Others took a more chaotic approach and began flipping over chairs and looking under tables for a key. One unconventional team started by googling “how to pick a lock” and constructing a tool from materials in the room.

In the end, though, the puzzles required leaders to lean on the NTN Learning Outcomes—Knowledge and Thinking, Agency, Collaboration, and Communication—to achieve success. It was only when the teams began to work together, shouting questions and answers across the room, and sharing their clues, that the riddles began to unravel.

As educators, we are challenged to solve a series of puzzles every day. The Breakout EDU experience served as a reminder that solving problems doesn’t have to be daunting—it can even be fun! When armed with the Learning Outcomes and supported by our peers, there is no limit to what we can accomplish. Red herrings and all.


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