Evan Pfeiffer ’16, M.A.Ed. ’17 has been awarded a Williamsburg-James City County Schools Foundation Innovative Learning Grant Award for February 2018. A first-year teacher at Hornsby Middle School, Pfeiffer created an escape room challenge in conjunction with Room Escape of Williamsburg to teach students about the creation of the U.S. Constitution. An active form of group teamwork and entertainment that involves solving puzzles to escape a locked room, escape rooms can be themed for all ages. Now pursuing an Autism Certificate at the School of Education, Pfeiffer graduated from William & Mary with a B.A. in history and an M.A.Ed. in social studies education.
“I have done several escape rooms myself and have enjoyed all of them. I also know that escape rooms are a widely popular form of entertainment for all people, but especially young students and teens,” Pfeiffer said when asked where he got the inspiration for the idea. The manager and room designers of Room Escape of Williamsburg are on board, and the planning process has begun. He hopes to have his students go through in groups of five or six in three separate rooms and have all four of his eighth grade Civics classes participate over two days in June.
He said that having students participate in an interactive puzzle competition to put together the pieces of the Constitution would give them a better understanding of how it was created and its relevance today. “I want my students to know that the U.S. Constitution did not emerge out of a vacuum; moreover, it was influenced by many previous documents that came before it. It borrowed ideas, principles, and philosophies. I want them to realize the context in which it was written, and that it is an enduring document that is difficult to change.”
The project covers several Virginia standards of learning, including explaining the fundamental principles of consent of the governed, limited government, rule of law, democracy, and representative government; describing the purposes for the Constitution of the United States as stated in its Preamble; and describing the procedures for amending the Constitution of Virginia and the Constitution of the United States. “When they actually try to ‘escape the room’ they will be asked to engage with a variety of puzzles, clues, locks, and riddles that cover the founding documents of our government. By working together, students will interpret the clues and evidence to ‘piece together’ and ‘create’ the Constitution to escape!”
Pfeiffer is also looking for community support as he embarks on his journey as a new teacher. “This is my first grant proposal, and as a first-year teacher, I would gladly take any advice, suggestions, or ideas!” Pfeiffer is also in search of colonial-style props such as clothing or art supplies including canvas and drop-cloth. If you have items to donate of if you’re interested in volunteering as a game master/chaperone during the June 4-8 window, contact Pfeiffer at Evan.Pfeiffer@wjccschools.org.