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The Great Wall

  • Game Designer: Matthew Gudenius
  • Content Area: Math, Ratio, Percent, China
  • Recommended Ages: Middle Grades
  • Ideal Group Size: Whole Class
  • Suggested Time: 45 minutes

You were all summoned here earlier today after receiving this notice from the chief of the Archaeological Investigations Agency:

I have gravely urgent news to report: an explosion has shaken the foundations of one of the most famous segments of the Great Wall of China. So far, nobody has been hurt, and the Wall remains mostly intact, but the Chinese authorities have reason to believe an extremist terror organization, the Chinese Nationalist Front, may be behind the attack. On the other hand, very little damage was done and it may have been caused by an unknown stockpile of ancient fireworks within the wall. Due to our experience with archaeological artifacts and antiquities, the authorities have called upon us to help investigate the cause of the explosion. But we must be very careful; the CNF is comprised of highly dangerous Chinese nationalists, and there is a real threat of violence here. You will need all of the tools at your disposal, including a computer device which has been supplied to help look up information as necessary, as well as containing a few apps you may find helpful during your investigation. I know you can handle this job… but be careful!”

3-DIGIT LOCK = 2-8-0

4-DIGIT LOCK = 7-2-4-5



Preparations - See video for more details

  1. Print out all required printables

  2. Post the Warning Note prominently displayed (on a wall or table or on top of the Breakout Box)

  3. Cut out each QR code puzzle, then cut each puzzle into 4 quadrants (cut in half vertically, and again horizontally to make 4 “corners” of the puzzle) to make 16 total puzzle pieces. Provide to students in a pile, or scatter these pieces around the room.

  4. Cut out the Mah Jong tiles and Han Dynasty Coins. For the coins, use a glue stick to glue the reverse (blank) side and fold at the seam to create two-sided coins.

  5. Place UV / black light flashlight inside 3-digit lockbox, set the lock to 280, and close.

  6. Place the Han Coins inside the Breakout Box, along with the Gunpowder Recipe. Using a web browser on an internet-enabled device small enough to fit inside the Breakout Box, load the Bomb app ( bit.ly/defusebomb ), then place the device into the Breakout Box.

  7. Secure box with hasp and place the 5-letter wordlock, 4-digit lock, and directional lock onto the hasp (be sure to set the correct combinations listed above.)

  8. Using the invisible ink / UV pen, write the numbers 5, 3, 8, and 7 on the tiles marked E, S, W, and N. Place the tiles on or next to Breakout Box.

  9. When you are ready to begin, read aloud the backstory/intro from the top of this page!


To solve the puzzles, students will need to have knowledge of the following:

  • Understanding ratios and equivalent ratios
  • Problem-solving for ratio word problems (knowledge of how to use tape diagrams will be extremely helpful)
  • Recognition of proportionality
  • Given a part & percent, identify the whole amount represented in the proportional relationship
  • Plotting rates as a relationship between x and y
  • How to use Google Translate (or equivalent translation app) to translate from Chinese to English, using a device’s camera
  • Knowing how to “Google” information (ie. perform a web search)



  1. You may want to do a lesson involving use of Google Translate prior to doing this Breakout, so students will know about that tool and be ready to use it when they see the Chinese Characters.

Before or after this lesson, you could show this short TED-Ed video about gunpowder -- the history/social-studies of it, and the science behind fireworks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqHVRgCkCDE




Email info@breakoutedu.com if you have any questions. 


ratio, math, fractions, percent