Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Cindy Crushes Programming: Star Wars Escape Room

Today YA Librarian Cindy Shutts is walking us through her Star Wars themed Escape Room.

To learn more about the basics of hosting an Escape Room, please check out Breakout Edu as they have basic kits that you can use as a foundation. You can also read a couple of previous posts on Escape Rooms here at TLT:

TPiB: Build an Escape Room by Michelle Biwer – Teen Librarian Toolbox

TPiB: Locked in the Library! Hosting an Escape Room by Heather Booth

Cindy Crushes Programming: Hosting a Stranger Things Escape Room

Basic program premise . . .

Your teens will be “locked” in the library and in order to escape, they must unravel a mystery, find the secret codes, and “unlock” the boxes to survive or meet your end goal. Most escape rooms give participants an hour to escape.

Plot: Your planet is about to be exploded by the Death Star. You have 45 minutes to find the key to the escape pod. Use the Force to uncover the clues that will lead you to safety.

Supplies: 

  • You could use the Breakout Edu Kit
  • 4 digit lock
  • 3 digit lock
  • Word lock
  •  Key lock and key
  • Two lock boxes
  • Directional lock
  • Note  ”Rebels must surrender by 12:00 hour or the planet will be destroyed”
  • Note with Riddle
  • Porg
  • Four
  • 4 Wookies with numbers
  • Star Wars planet map printed out from internet
  • Various space and Star Wars props
  • Skelton key labeled escape pod

Room and lock set up

Word lock: Siren.

I will have a riddle “what warns of danger but also can lead to the death of sailors?” Lock on big box. See supplemental materials below.

4 Digit lock: I will hide four Wookies that all have different numbers on them in the room. The number will be 0132. Lock on big box.

3 Digit lock:  I will make a note that says “A space ship enters warp speed and is going 3 times the speed of light 299 792 458 meters per second 3(299792458). How many meters does it go in one second and what are the last three digits of the number”?  899,188,374 (374)

Key lock: Key will be placed place in the big box. Lock will be placed on the small lockbox.  Skelton key labeled escape pods will be placed in small lockbox.

Red Herring: Will be various props and the note that says, “Rebels must surrender by 12:00 hours or the planet will be destroyed”

Directional lock: “S.O. S. This is Rebel Leader Gyn. I am on planet Mooja. We received a message from Arbra that a message from Hok has been received that Javin is in danger from the Deathstar. Evacuation needs help! Anyone who hears this message needs to help the people of Javin!”  Note will correspond with map of Star Wars planets. The combination is Up Down Right Left. Lock on big box.

Final Thoughts: This was a fun adventure! The teens thought it was way harder than the last Escape Room and in fact only got the Escape Room done with less than 30 seconds to go.

Supplemental Notes and Materials

Collecting Comics: November and December 2018 Edition, featuring a Spider-man, a Squirrel Girl, fierce females and some polar bears, by Ally Watkins

Here are comics titles your teens and tweens will be clamoring for in November and December!

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi Adaptation by Gary Whitta, illustrated by Michael Welsh (Marvel, November 6). In this adaptation of the film, the Resistance has located Luke Skywalker, but the First Order isn’t going down without a fight. Collects #1-#6 of the comic book series.

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Deogratias: A Tale of Rwanda by J.P. Stassen (First Second, November 6). A thought-provoking nonfiction graphic tale set in Rwanda before and after the genocide of the Tutsi people.

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The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Volume 9: Squirrels Fall Like Dominoes by Ryan North, illustrated by Erica Henderson (Marvel, November 27). In this ninth volume of Doreen Green’s squirrel-related antics continue. She and her best friend Nancy Whitehead decide to do an escape room adventure with their friends. Except this escape room might actually be lethal. Squirrel Girl to the rescue! Collects issues #32-#36 of the comic book series.

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Enola Holmes: The Case of the Missing Marquess by Serena Blasco, based on the novel by Nancy Springer (IDW Publishing, November 27).  In this adaptation of Springer’s novel, Sherlock and Mycroft’s younger sister Enola wakes up on her 14th birthday to discover that her mother has disappeared. Determined not to be caught and packed off to boarding school, she escapes to London, determined to crack the case and make it on her own.

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Spidey: School’s Out by John Barber and Todd Nauck (Marvel, December 4). In this original graphic novel, Peter Parker has survived a year of being Spiderman and another year of high school. So obviously for his summer vacation he’s going to Camp Stark! He’s got to keep his camp and his identity safe while navigating the social and technological demands of camp: are both Spidey and Peter Parker up to the task?

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Lumberjanes Volume 10: Parents’ Day by Shannon Waters and Kat Leyh, illustrated by Ayme Sotuyo (BOOM! Box, December 11). It’s parents’ day at the Lumberjanes camp and everyone is excited! Well…almost everyone. The Roanoke cabin wants to express to their families how much fun they’ve been having even though they might not understand the more supernatural elements of it. Soon they find themselves having to protect their parents from that very element. Collects issues #37-#40 of the comic book series.

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Giant Days: Early Registration by John Allison (BOOM! Box, December 18). Flashback to freshman year with Daisy, Esther, and Susan in these collected Giant Days bonus stories. Discover how they get to know one another and become friends!

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Science Comics: Polar Bears: Survival on Ice by Jason Viola, illustrated by by Zack Giallongo (First Second, December 31). In this latest installment of the nonfiction Science Comics series, we join two polar bear cubs as they hunt, play, and survive on the ice. With facts about polar bear biology and ecology, this fact-filled book will be a must for your nonfiction readers.

Getting Ready for May the Fourth: Some Star Wars STEAM Ideas

Our weekly STEM program for 3 to 18 year old patrons took a turn for the galactic yesterday as we focused on Star Wars. None of the ideas I’m about to link to are my own, but I will tell you how well they worked for us and give you some tips for success.

81r2wmJ1JxL_SL1500_Our first activity was releasing Lego Star Wars figures from ‘carbonite.’ You can find the original post here. We used a combination of baking soda and water to freeze the minifigs into ice cubes. First hot tip – they don’t fit in standard ice cube trays. Luckily, I actually had some Star Wars themed jello molds (don’t ask) and they fit in those. We used vinegar to dissolve the ‘carbonite,’ but unlike the original post, I had the kids use pipettes to wash the baking soda away gradually. It really depends on your level of patience, but I think they had fun. Your mileage may vary.

Next we moved on to this activity – creating light saber cards. This was probably my favorite activity and the one I would consider the most teachable moment. If you scroll down in the post, you can find links to all the necessary materials, which were surprisingly affordable. There are also free printables to make the cards themselves. The blogger created one version for ‘May the Fourth’ and one for ‘May the Force,’ so you can use it year round.

We made balloon hovercrafts as detailed here. I’m sure you have some old CDs or DVDs and balloons around, and who doesn’t have a hot glue gun? Unfortunately, the other necessary piece (a pop up bottle lid) is much more difficult to find these days. Almost all of the items that used to have them, such as dish soap and sports water bottles, have switched to the new flip top model. I found them from some online vendors, but you either had to purchase thousands of them or pay exorbitant shipping fees. My best advice is to make friends with people who polish their hardwood floors – all of those containers still use the pop up lids, as does dish soap from the Mrs. Meyer’s company. It’s not ideal, but it is doable if you plan ahead (or have lots of friends with hardwood floors.)

We made these light saber sensory bottles, as well. The post recommends using VOS water bottles, which are quite expensive. We used the large Smart Water bottles because it is what I like to drink. I would recommend going with a smaller bottle, though.

Finally, we made some origami Millennium Falcons. There are many different versions of the instructions online, but the one I found easiest to follow is here.

Happy Star Wars day preparations to all!

Carrie Fisher: Rebel Princess, The Library and Me

I once presented at ALA with Princess Leia hair buns. I was having a bad hair day, feeling defeated, and the clock was ticking. I needed to go sit in front of my professional peers and talk about Free Comic Book Day programming. So I summoned the Force, threw my hair up in two buns on the side of my head, and just went with it. Princess Leia hair, I would later argue to someone who questioned me, was the perfect hair for a panel on Free Comic Book Day. Comics, like Leia, are rebellious.

Using the green screen & other photo apps to make Star Wars pictures

Using the green screen & other photo apps to make Star Wars pictures

Free Comic Book Day. Star Wars Reads Day. May the 4th.

Star Wars has been a huge part of my professional library career.

It’s also been a huge part of my private life.

I remember waiting in line to go see Return of the Jedi on a dark night.

I remember my little brother going to sleep each night with a stuffed R2-D2.

I remember my own stuffed Ewok.

Green Screen Star Wars

Green Screen Star Wars

Last year, I had the honor and privilege of introducing my daughters to the Star Wars universe and taking them to see A Force Awakens. Here again was Carrie Fisher breaking the mold. Older now, she stood on that screen larger than life and she continued to lead the rebellion.

Many years ago, late at night, The Mr. and I were flipping channels when we stumbled across Carrie Fisher’s one woman show. We watched it and I was astounded to realize all that she had fought with and by most appearances won in her life time. Later, when I would have my own struggles with mental health, I remembered how she fought to erase the stigma. “She was a champion for mental illness,” I told my girls yesterday, “She struggled with depression.” My daughter looked at me and said, “that’s what happens to you sometimes.” And it is. We put a name to it, we take away it’s shame and power. It’s an illness, I remind my girls.

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It is only later in life that I would learn of Carrie’s tremendous talent as a writer, which seems odd when you consider that for 22 years I have been a champion of the written word. But as in most things in life, women have to work twice as hard to get half the credit. She did the work, and was good at it.

I recently took both of my girls to see Rogue One. We had a very Star Wars Christmas at my house. The Force Awakens, Rogue One, t-shirts and pajamas. And while I knew these gifts sat under our tree, I also knew that Carrie Fisher was in a hospital fighting for her life.

2016 has been devastating to my childhood.

Today, like that day at ALA years ago, I wear my hair in Princess Leia buns. I will rebel.

Today, like that day at ALA years ago, I wear my hair in Princess Leia buns. I will rebel.

But I do not lose hope. Hope is what rebellions are made of. And in the true spirit of Carrie Fisher, I will continue to fight the rebellions and give my teens the tools to fight it for the next generation.

To Carrie Fisher I say, “I love you.” To which she replies, “I know.”

Video Games Weekly: Star Wars Battlefront

videogamesweeklyI hope everyone has survived their Fall Break! As I wrote in an earlier post, Star Wars Battlefront recently came out for the holiday season and as predicted, it’s pretty popular at my library. However, it isn’t doing as well in sales because it is competing with big ticketed games like Fallout 4 and Call of Duty: Black Ops III. As such, the gaming community has given it mixed reviews, depending on who has played earlier versions of Battlefront. I was able to play Star Wars Battlefront on our library’s PS4 with tweens and teens on International Games Day, and I LOVED IT. Without further ado, here is my review!

Platform: Xbox One, PS4, PC

Rated: “T” for Teen, for violence. There isn’t any blood.

Single or Multiplayer: Both. Multiplayer is way better though.

Series Quick Synopsis: Star Wars Battlefront is certainly not the first Star Wars video game. The first Star Wars Battlefront game was released in 2004, followed by sequels in 2005-2009. The 2015 version of Star Wars Battlefront is not exactly a sequel to the 2004 version but rather, a reboot.

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This is why it has received mixed reviews; some players believe it’s a waste of money to buy the same game but with significantly better graphics while players like me are happy to replay old games for the sake of nostalgia. Take a look below to see 2015 compare to 2005:

Picture: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/axKN8h2ROso/maxresdefault.jpg

Solo and Co-Op Missions: Players have the option of playing through missions either as single player or co-op mode. There are different kinds of missions like training, survival, or battles. Training isn’t too long, probably about ten minutes. Training is the game’s way of teaching you the controls, which is great because it’s been a few years since I’ve played Battlefront!

Survival mode is where you and another player try to survive waves of enemies coming towards you. The longer you survive, the more difficult it gets. I played one survival battle with a teen, and we got decently far! This is for players who want to play with each other, not against.

At International Games Day, I had the tweens/teens play battles against one another on a split screen. Players can choose between a regular Battle or a Hero Battle. Hero Battle was the popular choice because players can choose to play as main characters like Luke Skywalker, Boba Fett, and Darth Vader.

Picture: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/wW6ccK9RJ3I/maxresdefault.jpg

One thing I noticed is whomever plays as Boba Fett has a crazy advantage over everyone else. Boba Fett has a jetpack, which means he can fly around the map and get to higher ground. I was playing as Luke Skywalker and a teen was playing as Boba Fett, and he would fly on top of a ship to try to snipe me. Like the movies, Luke Skywalker has the ability to use his lightsaber to deflect shootings, but this is a special capability that has a time limit. So if you have teens playing against one another, be sure you enforce the rule that they have to change their “hero” after every battle.

Players win battles by getting 100 points. You win points by killing your opponents. The cool part about battles is you can choose to have AI bots in the game, or just play each other. So even though the teen who was playing as Boba Fett was sniping me, I still beat him because I was running around killing his AI.

The one thing that is missing from battles is…THERE ARE NO SPACE BATTLES! This makes me sad because space battles have appeared in previous Star Wars Battlefront games. They’re really fun, but I’ve heard rumors that a new Star Wars Battlefront has been green lit and will include space battles. However, you can play in space in multiplayer mode.

Multiplayer: Online multiplayer mode is probably Battlefront’s best asset. This does mean that players have to have an online account in order to play online, which can get annoying because that is an extra cost. Some justify that cost with the different kinds of accessible multiplayer modes, and players can play with 8-40 players. That’s right, 40! There are five different online player modes: Fighter Squadron, Supremacy, Cargo, Blast, Droid Run, and Walker Assault. I haven’t had the chance to play all of them yet because of the holiday…sorry! I’ll talk about my two favorite ones, and give you links to the others I haven’t played yet.

Fighter Squadron: This is a space battle where you can fly Star Wars ships. Players can play either in first person or third person. Playing in first person means you can see what you’re doing from inside the cockpit, which means your shooting will be more accurate. If you play with a third person view outside of the ship, you have a better idea of who is around you, but your aiming will be less accurate. Players get points for killing enemies: one point for AI, three for a human player. Players also can control hero ships, like the Millenium Falcon or Slave. Like most space games, the experience can make you dizzy, but it’s really fun!

Supremacy: Players go against another team in a 10 minute battle. Each team tries to take over five control points that are all over a large map, while taking enemies out. This is probably the most chaotic type of multiplayer game because there are 40 players on the map, and there are vehicles both on the ground and in the air. This multiplayer map is definitely for people who are looking for a challenge and don’t mind playing online.

Verdict: A good purchase for core collections. Patrons of all ages, not just teens, will enjoy it!

Questions? Comments? Tweet them at me!

By: Alanna Graves
Twitter: @LannaLibrarian

Pricing

$59.99 on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Star-Wars-Battlefront-Standard-PlayStation-4/dp/B00W8FYFBA/ref=sr_1_1?s=videogames&ie=UTF8&qid=1448755442&sr=1-1&keywords=battlefront

Sunday Reflections: I’m Holding Out for a Hero, a Female Superhero

I have such conflicted feelings about this year’s superhero themed Summer Reading Club.

As a big superhero fan myself, I was at first incredibly excited. But the truth is, for those of us raising daughters or working with the female gender – which coincidentally makes up half of the population – it’s a bit of a double edged sword when you start to realize how little female representation there is in the world of superheroes. And the representation we do get is often incredibly sexualized and often in service of the male characters.

And then there is the merchandising.

Sure, in Big Hero 6 there are two female superheroes out of the six. A full 1/3. But you’ll be hard pressed to find them on any of the merchandising, particularly if you go looking for fabric to make your own clothing.

The Marvel Universe, also a Disney house now, isn’t much better. If you go looking for Guardians of the Galaxy or The Avengers merchandise you will be lucky to find any including Gamora or Black Widow. As The Mary Sue points out, you can only find a hand full of Black Widow on the new merchandising efforts for The Avengers 2: Age of Ultron.

And if you go looking at Star Wars merchandise, you won’t find a lot of women there either. As Carrie Fisher recently pointed out, our primary image of Princess Leia from the Star Wars universe is the one where she is being held captive and sexualized in the gold bikini. Interestingly enough, at a recent Star Wars panel author Anthony Breznican (BRUTAL YOUTH) asked about female representation in the Star Wars universe and they seemed to at least acknolwedge there was a problem and they were working on it. Skip to the 5:30 timestamp in this Force Awakens panel to see the discussion.

I noticed this myself when we took our Girl Scout troop to a Build a Bear for a reward party for selling far and above the amount of cookies we thought they could sell. They worked hard and were incredibly successful. But if they wanted to build a superhero themed bear their choices were Thor, Hulk, Captain America and Iron Man.

And during Easter season I snapped this picture of Superhero dolls you can purchase to fill baskets. Not surprisingly, there was not a female one in the offering even though they were both DC and Marvel based heroes, which means they could have at the very least included Wonder Woman.

The results weren’t much better when I went looking for superhero Legos for my Lego based Makerspace. The problem, of course, is that there are far less female superheroes to choose from. So when I found a pack of 24 superhero Legos for only $24.00 on Ebay – a fantastic price – it was not surprising when they came in and only 4 of them were female. My tweens and teens like to make stop motion Lego movies and we’ll be making our own superhero themed ones, but it looks like our representation won’t be much better than the big screen given how few options we will have.

There was a glimmer of hope when the recent Ms Marvel comics were released – and they are good. Bonus points because we get a female superhero and a woman of color to boot, done well. But the male superheroes still far outnumber the female. And there isn’t a female superhero movie in sight for 2015 or 2016. A Wonder Woman movie has been tabled for years, currently slated for 2017. However, the pressure for a female led superhero movie to be successful is so stressful that the current director recently jumped ship according to MTV news. There is now a new director attached to the picture, Patty Jenkins, but if this movie fails many in the industry will see it as a sign that no one wants female superhero movies, which is nowhere near the truth.

My 6 year old daughter’s favorite movie is The Avengers (and sometimes Sharknado). She watches it again and again and again. I am mesmerized as she watches the scene where Black Widow busts out of a chair that she is tied into, surrounded by men who think they have the upper hand. I see how she feels empowered and is taking in a simple message: even in the most seemingly dire of situations you can be powerful, you can be strong, you can save yourself. In a world where a majority of the images our girls will see involve them being rescued by, objectified by and in service of men, it’s such a powerful message. But then when we can’t find any superhero merchandise in the stores, that message is undermined.

To make matters worse, some of the Avengers themselves were on a press tour this past week when they reminded us all that powerful women who embrace their sexuality are “sluts” and “whores”. In a recent interview with Renner (Hawkeye) and Evans (Captain America), when asked about Black Widow maybe having a relationship with Hulk, the two men joked about Black Widow being a slut. To add injury to insult, they went on to suggest that because her character has a prosthetic leg (which I hear makes no sense because it is not true) and she was “leading everyone on”, which is troubling ableist language. And they pointed out that “she’ll always be a sidekick anyway”, a seemingly direct slap in the face to every fan asking for a Black Widow movie.

Just this week WB and DC announced a new line of superhero stuffs – JUST FOR GIRLS. Which you would think would make me feel less conflicted, but it only addresses the female half of my concerns. Yes, I want my girls to see girl superheroes. But I also want boys growing up being told by marketers and authors and society at large that girls are not other, that they are in fact worthy of their time and attention. I want boys to be just as comfortable wearing an Avengers shirt with Black Widow as my girls are expected to be wearing a shirt with Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, and Hulk. As Chuck Wendig points out in his discussion of the WB/DC announcement: “Society will get better when boys have to learn about girls the same way girls learn about boys.” It’s not just about wanting superheroes for girls, is about wanting our boys to grow up in a world where they embrace the value of girls. But that’s what gendering does, especially since it is catered to the males among us, it others females in such a way that our boys grow up being told that girls are not worth their time and attention, unless it is as a sex object.

I dropped my daughters off at school today. I kissed them goodbye and told them I love them. I sent them out once again into the breech, this world that continues to tell them that in subtle and not so subtle ways that they are less than their male counterparts. I think they deserve better. I think they deserve to see female superheroes who remind them that they can be fierce, they can be brave, they can be honorable – that they can be their own heroes. And I think they deserve to grow up in a world where boys are learning that girls and the things that girls like, produce and consume have value. And this can be done to some extent when they have their own superheroes to look up to, but even more is accomplished when we create a superhero universe for all fans – male and female – that represents a wide variety of genders, ethnicities, abilities and more. Representation matters.