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How to Set Up an Astronomy Escape Room with Free Printables

How to Set Up an Astronomy Escape Room with Free Printables
As I was planning out escape rooms for my homeschool co-op kids, the nerd in me couldn't help but notice we would be in co-op on Star Wars Day! Of course, I took advantage of this and added some Star Wars themed elements into an astronomy themed escape room.

The set up of this room is as if Star Wars characters came into our own galaxy, so all the factual information is about our own galaxy. Hopefully that makes sense. It probably would have been fun to have the kids visit Tatooine, but I really wanted to get a little astronomy information in, so I left it in our own Milky Way with our own well known planets.

Supplies for this Kid Friendly Star Wars Escape Room

Printables (If you aren't a subscriber you will need to sign up and confirm to get access)
Death Star Color Page (we used this one)
White Crayons
Globe with attached Moon 
Kitchen Scale
Something to Weigh (we used R2D2 to keep with the theme.)
Piece of Cardboard or Paper to draw the base of the globe on.
Washi Tape
3-digit Programmable Lock
X-Wing (optional)

Setting Up an Astronomy Escape Room for Kids

Start by printing your printables (including the Death Star coloring page). On the page with small boxes you will need to use an Exacto knife to cut out the boxes. This will act as a decoder, so you will want to be as precise as possible when doing this.

Hide both the page with cut put squares and the paragraphs about gravity somewhere in the room.

Set your lock to whatever combination you want. I used 456 because those are the Star Wars movies I prefer, but seriously any combination will work. Once you have your combination chosen, use the white crayon to write the numbers, in order, on the coloring page. I tried to write mine smallish and disguise them in the lines of the Death Star.

Now take whatever container you have to lock, and lock the you escape paper and the X-wing

The globe was a bit tricky for me as I didn't have time to order one before class. So I made my own. I took a globe that I already had and attached a small styrofoam ball to it using some fairly stiff wire. I had to tighten it pretty tight with pliers to get it to the point that it wouldn't slide down.

To go with the globe puzzle, you will need to tape the sun picture to the wall and then position the globe where the moon will be a last quarter moon based on the position of the sun. You will want to place a piece of paper or cardboard under the globe and draw around it in this position. Tape the paper down, so the kids don't disturb it. Now you can place the globe somewhere else in the room. Also hide the flashlight, and if you want you can hide the flashlight batteries separately.

Now you will need to hide the moon phase calendar and the moon phase clock in the room. I actually placed them directly over the calendar and clock that were already in the room, but you could certainly be sneakier. 

Before set up you will need to select a planet that you want the threat to earth to be coming from. My kids chose Saturn for me. Now you will need to weigh the mystery object (for us R2D2) and then calculate its weight on your chosen planet given the gravity chart included in the printables. Take this weight, write it on a piece of washi tape and stick it to the object. Now hide the object, a kitchen scale, the gravity chart, and if you are nice a calculator in the room.

That should leave you with the solution sheet, the hint cards, and the instructions to give to kids in their folder.

How Kids Solve the Star Wars Astronomy Escape Room

Now that it is all set up, let me explain how the kids will need to solve the various puzzles.

First the decoder puzzle. This is pretty easy if they match up the rockets on the bottom of the pieces of paper. Once they do that (assuming they have the one with holes on top) the letters in the holes spell out DEATH STAR. That gives them what is attacking earth if they haven't already figured it out from the coloring page.

The coloring page is a simple puzzle that my kids just overlooked. For some reason high schoolers thought it beneath them to color it. When it is colored with the markers, the white crayon numbers will show through. They should show up when held up to the light as well if the kids decide to make it difficult by using the flashlight. Really the markers are the best and easiest way to solve this one. It gives them the lock combination which gets them an x-wing to fight the Death Star with. So really, not even an important piece of the room, but a little extra fun.

The moon phase puzzle is a multi-step puzzle. First the kids will need to identify that the globe goes on that piece of paper or cardboard you have taped to the table, and they need to position it correctly! Once they notice the sun, they should be able to figure out the moon phase from that. If they need more of a visual they can use the flashlight as the sun as long as you are in a fairly dim room. Once they have the moon phase they will have to connect it with both the calendar and the clock to get the time and date.

The last puzzle is probably the trickiest. The kids need to find from what part of the galaxy the threat is coming. To do this they need to utilize the gravity chart, scale, and object with weight written on it. They will undoubtedly weigh the object in question (remember we used R2D2) and notice it doesn't match the number written on the tape. This is where they need to make the connection to the gravity chart and do some math. They should connect that on earth (at gravity of 1) the object weighs whatever they weighed it at and then see that the number on the object is higher or lower. Then they can use simple division to find the missing number. Or they can do it the hard way and multiply the weight by each of the gravity factors until they find one that matches the number. Either way they can obtain the planet that the Death Star is coming from with that information.

Once they have all of these things figured out they escape!

My older kids got through this one pretty easily. They got hung up at the gravity conversion and the coloring page, but their hint cards got them through. Maybe if I had placed it on Tatooine it would have been a bit harder, but it was pretty fun anyhow!

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