Stow-Munroe Falls' Kimpton Middle School students in Maria Pocek's seventh- and eighth-grade accelerated English classes have been participating in Breakout EDU, a game that teaches critical thinking, teamwork and complex problem solving, while trying to open a lock box.

Students are given a problem in the form of a short story that sets the purpose for trying to open a lock box. They are challenged with finding and deciphering a series of clues and resources to solve the combinations of various locks on the box. The combinations may be numerical, alphabetical or directional.

"The breakouts are not easy, and they teach the students the importance of grit," said Pocek. "Overall, it is an excellent way to meet the needs of my students who are identified gifted in Super Cognitive ability, while also challenging the rest of my students to use those same skills."

Students enjoy the mystery of the project, from trying to find and decipher the clues, to wondering what is in the box. They also enjoy the competition from working against the clock to solve the clues and opening the lock box before the other teams.

"When they can crack the codes and open the box, they feel a great sense of accomplishment," said Pocek. "Once the box is opened, students find the final piece of the original story. Occasionally, students will also find a small prize waiting for them."

Pocek learned about Breakout EDU while attending the Ohio Association for Gifted Children Conference. After attending a Breakout EDU session during the district's last professional development day, she received funding for the activity kit from Principal Susan Palchesko.

"The Breakout EDU boxes are a unique way to challenge our students," said Superintendent Tom Bratten. "Our district works to continually meet the needs of all students, including gifted. This is a great way to creatively create unique interactive lessons.

For more information on Breakout EDU, visit