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Students build their breakout boxes.
February 24, 2017
Outside-of-the-Box Collaboration
Active listening and open-mindedness are the building blocks of good communication. In order to put these skills to the test, Grade 8 students from Branksome Hall and Upper Canada College came together for a special day of outside-the-box activities.

Designed to enhance their empathy and communication skills, small groups of students created “Breakout EDU boxes.” A Breakout EDU box is a small, sturdy box that students strategically design and lock, as a challenge for another team to try to open. The groups creatively designed their boxes using a variety of locks, clues and even red herrings to try to throw the other team off. Once the boxes were created and locked, the students then swapped their boxes with the other teams. The fun then began, as they busily tried to use the clues provided to open the boxes.
  
Teacher-Librarian Samhita Gupta thought this was a very innovative and creative way for students to learn about working together.

“They allowed students to not just work collaboratively to solve critical thinking puzzles but to design them for each other to solve,” said Ms Gupta. “This was a wonderful learning experience between Branksome and UCC students.”

Drama teacher Erin O'Rourke is passionate about the benefits of the Breakout EDU exercise.

“It's a great critical thinking tool for students,' said Ms O'Rourke. "After seeing the Breakout EDU boxes at a faculty event, many of our teachers have begun using them in science and math classes in both the Senior and Junior schools."​​

Grade 8 student Hayley really enjoyed the day filled with fun. “The breakout boxes were my favourite part of the day because it involved teamwork, problem solving and creativity,” she said. “It gave us an opportunity to think outside the box.”

Afterwards, the students talked about it and shared what improvements could be made to the clues given by the other teams to open the boxes. After lunch, the students even participated in a fun dance party.

By the end of the day, Hayley felt that Collaboration Day had been a great experience.

“I felt as though our team became more comfortable with each other and started to communicate with confidence,” she said. “I learned to be productive and successful with peers I had never met before. I also learned that success is not something you can achieve by trying once and immediately being correct, but it is something to strive towards.”


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