Fifth grade math students solve breakout boxes

Middle school math teacher Sarah Peebles’ students completed a breakout box challenge in fifth grade advanced math class today. 
Students were prompted to imagine that their parents bought them special tickets to a big basketball game, but then their sibling hid the tickets in a locked box. Their goal was to complete a list of math problems to determine the combination of the locks on their box and retrieve their tickets! 

The fifth grade students are currently learning about the order of operations, a rule that defines the correct sequence for solving math problems. Students practiced recalling the correct order of operations as they solved various problems.  

Fifth grade math teacher Sarah Peebles consistently challenged students to remember that to be successful at math, you must stay organized. She encouraged them to write clearly and in an orderly fashion as they answered the “mystery” math problems. Students were split up into teams, which encouraged teamwork and called for leadership and communication skills. 

“A huge benefit of this activity is that it encourages critical thinking, which is important as these students are entering their first year of middle school,” explains Peebles. “They know many of these concepts from lower school, but answering the ‘why’ behind each concept is extremely helpful and sets these students up for success in the rest of the middle school grades.” 

The team that opened the box first and won the activity received a paper key. Students earn keys by being good participants in class – which can be defined in a variety of ways. At the end of each month, students who have earned paper keys can trade them in for a real key that may unlock a special prize like a snack or special treat! 

Great work, middle school math students and breakout experts!