Combining two things together that are both great on their own can create something wonderful. In my classroom and at home, my children love building, creating and doing STEM activities. Escape rooms are another activity that I continue to see the engagement and excitement from kids every time I plan an escape room game. Mixing these two things has lead me to an incredible combination, a STEM escape room for kids!
Escape rooms continue to be very popular and a fun activity for kids, and adults. Solving puzzles as you race the clock and sharing lots of laughs as you escape is a great way to spend time. Creating a DIY escape room in your own space has never been easier with this STEM escape room for kids.
This escape room is unique because it includes a science experiment, technology through the use of a cell phone, engineering through building challenges and some math and counting activities have also been mixed in. So if you love STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) then this STEM escape room is a great addition to any school STEM program or activity at home!
Some of the escape rooms I have created are intended for young children. They are easy games to introduce children to escape rooms, such as this DIY Escape Room for kids at home. This STEM escape room is a bit more challenging and may be more enjoyed by a slightly older group of children, especially those who love building and STEM activities.
For more STEM activity ideas, visit a collection of 45+ STEM challenges for kids. Use simple, everyday materials to challenge children to create something wonderful.
STEM Escape Room Materials
For this STEM escape room, there are a several materials that you will need. To save you time, the printable puzzles featured in the escape room are all available. More information below.
For the STEM escape room, you will need:
- Printable Puzzles
- 9 Small Containers (with lids) + 1 larger container
- Purple Cabbage
- Colored Sticker Dots (9 colors)
- Cell Phone
- Lockable Box x4
- Number Lock x2
- Lock (+Key) x2
- Tinker Tray Materials – String, yarn, tape, magnets, paper clips, popsicle sticks, yarn etc.
- Large Clear Container + Tape
- Bristol Board/Foam Board
- 6 Small Containers (with Lids)
- 6 Collections of small items (coins, beads, pompoms, buttons etc.)
It looks like a lot of materials you need, however, many are things you may already have on hand. For example, if you don’t have colorful sticker dots, you can always simply paint a circle onto the small container or cut out colored paper.
If you don’t have 9 small containers, you could even use sealable baggies. This is not ideal because they could leak if handled roughly, but if you have limited supplies and know your players will be cautious, then you can get creative, keep it simple and use what you have.
If you are stuck on materials for a puzzle, you can always swap the puzzle for another one that you do have the materials for. Check out my list of over 40 DIY Escape Room puzzles using simple materials that can be added to any escape room.
I use lots of different types of lock boxes for my escape rooms. You don’t need to buy a bunch of new boxes for your STEM escape room. If you are looking for ideas for your lock box, visit How To Make an Escape Room Lock Box for ideas and to keep it simple.
Preparing the STEM Escape Room
Once you have your materials and you can start to prepare them. The room is described below as if you were a player, but the puzzles are explained so that they can easily be set up.
This STEM escape room can be done in any room. From a classroom to a kitchen, any room can work. Adding some special, themed items in the room can also help engage players and add to the excitement.
Table cloths, background music, such as a timer, and STEM items around the room can make the game even more fun! A few ideas of STEM items that I used were things like magnifying glasses, microscopes, a lab coat, camera, and math manipulatives. Setting these items out can also add to the challenge of the room as they are red herrings.
If players get stuck as they play the game, that’s okay. Part of the challenge of an escape room is the fact the although the clues lead from one to another, what needs to be done and solved is not meant to be told to players in great detail. They need to problem solve and try different strategies. Avoid offering help right away.
I typically allow for one hour for players to solve all of the clues. Younger kids, or smaller groups may need more time, or you can choose not to set a time limit at all.
Keep in mind that an adult will be supervising the room as children play. They don’t need to help at all unless players ask for help. Also, you can set a limit for the number of clues/help that can be given, but avoid giving help too quickly.
Playing the STEM Escape Room
The escape room is described below from a players perspective. This way clues are explained and solutions are given. Any additional information for the person setting the room up is included in bold italics with a star. Have fun!
As you enter the escape room, you notice lots of items around the room. Jars with keys in the bottom, several locked boxes, a board with one cup glued near the top and many more things are visible.
You are drawn to a note on the table with several small containers around it. It reads:
Upon your first read through, the note does not seem to make any sense. But as you read it again you notice that there are certain words that don’t seem to fit. You try removing the words to see if you can read the letter better.
By highlighting the words the letter now makes sense, and you also notice that the words that didn’t fit in the letter do fit together to give you a clue. The odd words say:
cut out the paper strips from the border sort from shortest to longest
Once you cut out the strips from around the border and sort them, you notice that the letter on the bottom of each strip gives you another clue. It says:
pour the red
This must be connected to all of the small containers that you noticed beside the note, because there is a red dot on one of them!
STEM Escape Room Science Experiment
You now know you have to pour the red. You look at all of the dots on the containers and grab the red one. It is a clear liquid inside, but each container looks the same.
You open the container and notice that it does not smell like water. Looking around you try to figure out where to pour the liquid.
*Each container simply contains water except the red container which is vinegar.
You notice the container with purple liquid and all of the colored dots around the outside. You decide to pour some of the red into the jar and see what happens. It’s a little science experiment!
Immediately, the purple liquid turns color! It turns pink!
*This is a magical science experiment. It uses purple cabbage water that reacts to the vinegar. For full instructions on how to make the science experiment visit “Science for Kids“. It is quick and easy to set up.
This experiment can also lead to a great conversation with kids about science experiments and never mixing liquids/chemicals at home without an adult telling them that it is safe.
The purple liquid is now pink and the sheet beside it shows a similar pink color beside the letter e and a picture of a cell phone, and image of a lock.
STEM Escape Room Cell Phone Technology
*A cell phone is set somewhere in the room and is password protected with the number e. Print the combination for a number lock onto a sheet of paper and take a picture of it. Set this picture of the number as your background so that it is visible when the phone is turned on and unlocked.
You search the room for a cell phone. When you find it you try to open it, but no luck, it’s locked.
You look at the letters and numbers beside the colors on the sheet and notice that the letter e is beside the pink. Since pink is the color the liquid turned you try using the letter e for the password.
As soon as it unlocks, you notice the background photo looks different. It is the number 284. That must be important! You look around to find somewhere to use the number.
STEM Escape Room Key Challenge
*Inside a locked box, place construction materials for this STEM building challenge. Beside the box place a large clear jug/container with a key at the bottom. Label the container to say “No Shaking”. Seal most of the top with tape so that only a small hole into the container remains.
You find a locked box and try the number code on the lock. It works! Inside the box there are a collection of random materials. It looks like some supplies to create something. You read the note from the box. It reads:
Using the materials, find a way to get the key out of the container.
The container is large and you cannot shake the key out. You start looking at the supplies and start to build.
*Kids can try a variety of strategies to get the key out. Ultimately attaching a magnet to a piece of string and lowering it into the jar is the easiest way. The key will stick to the magnet and can be slowly brought up. Let players build and experiment to find a solution.
Once you have made something that you can lower into the container, you try it out. The key sticks to the magnet and you are able to lift it out! Now you have a key.
STEM Escape Room Building Challenge
Preparing the Cup Building Challenge
*To prepare this challenge, use a foam board, or even a wall will work. This puzzle can work with any number lock. First build your pyramid using cups and when you place your last cup, secure the cup, with tape or glue to stick to the board. Count how many cups you used.
Next, subtract the number of cups from the number on your number lock and print this number on the puzzle printable.
For example, if your number lock combination is 100, subtract 45 (the number of cups in the pyramid). Print the number 55 on the puzzle page. This way players will add 55 to 45 once they build and count the cups in the pyramid. Then they will use the number 100 to open their lock.
Remove all of the other cups and secure them in a lock box, that locks with the key from the previous challenge. Leave a few extra cups in the box to add to the challenge so players don’t know exactly how many cups are needed.
Once you have the puzzle page filled out and the top cup secured, this puzzle is ready!
Pyramid Building STEM Challenge
Once you open the box, you notice a collection of paper cups. A instruction sheet is also included and reads:
Build a pyramid that the final top cup is the one already on the board. Each cup must be touching the one beside it as you build. Count the number of cups in your final pyramid. Add ___ to your final number to get your next lock combination.
You start taking the cups apart and building. As you start to build you notice that you need to solve how many cups the bottom row is going to have to reach the secured cup on the top.
Finally, you figure out a combination of cups that create a pyramid and the cup on the board sits perfectly on the top. You count all of the cups in the pyramid and add the number on the puzzle page. Another combination. You try the next locked box and it works!
STEM Escape Room Math Puzzles
Upon opening the box you notice several small containers, each filled with small items.
You read the printed puzzle page and get to work!
STEM Escape Room Puzzle Solution
There are a bunch of addition and subtraction problems that you quickly solve and work out that the final number you are looking for is 19.
Next, the puzzle says to find the jar with the same amount of items as the final answer above. So you are looking for a jar with 19 little items in it.
As you count you notice that each jar has a key. You need to count to know which key to use! You find one of the jars with exactly 19 items and use the key to open the final box!
If you like the idea of incorporating math into an escape room, check out another game for young children to practice their math and numbers in a fun and interactive way: Free Printable Escape Room for Young Kids.
Inside the box you find a completion certificate. You did it! You finished the STEM escape room and solved all of the puzzles. Way to go! You improved your science, technology, engineering, math and lots of problem solving skills today!
This completion certificate is included with the printables along with smaller copies of the certificate so that you can print four to one page. This way if you have a large group playing you can easily have a certificate for each of them.
Keep in mind that you can use this STEM escape room as an inspiration for your own escape room game. The puzzles can be ideas to then mix in your own themes and lessons that you want to focus on. Escape rooms offer a lot of possibilities and room to be creative. I’d love to hear how you created a STEM escape room for your kids.
If your kids loved this STEM escape room and you’re looking for more DIY escape room ideas, try a FREE printable escape room. All of the puzzles can be printed and hid around the house in a matter of minutes. Subscribe here and download the printables today.
STEM Escape Room Printable Clues
All of the clues featured in this activity above are available in Hands-On Teaching Ideas shop. To view for more information, or to purchase the printables, click the link below.
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