Searsport District High School ninth-grader Chance Robinson operates the command center of The Ace Syndicate Escape Room at Waldo County Technical Center. (Courtesy of Waldo County Technical Center)

Waldo County Technical Center students from the Explore CTE program ended their school year with the culminating project of building and running The Ace Syndicate, an escape room.  This project embodied the four Career and Technical Education trades upon which the program’s curriculum is built: building construction, electrical trades, computer technology, and graphic design.

Students built an 8- by 8-foot wooden structure to house the escape room. They wired the structure just like a house, using 110 AC and 12V DC. Students also installed various switches and outlets. They used computer technology to set up a computer network for a control center that allowed them to monitor the escape room while it was being used. Graphic design skills were implemented by designing a logo for  Ace Syndicate. Students also had to create a storyline and bring it to life with puzzles and decorations for the escape room.  

Explore CTE students visited Trapt in Maine in Rockport earlier this year as part of the Extended Learning Opportunities program at WCTC, where they were able to complete two escape rooms and interview the owner regarding what it takes to build a successful escape room and business.  

Instructor Chris Kein stated that this was a real lesson in teamwork and that “none of the students could have done it alone.”

Students played different roles in the project. Chance Robinson, a ninth-grader from Searsport District High School said, “I like the part of building it better than acting. I liked being Security Man Sam at the control center.” 

Idella Spaulding, a ninth-grader from Mount View High School stated that, “It was really fun learning new skills and working together and learning how to wire everything.” 

Once finished, The Ace Syndicate Escape Room was opened up to students and staff at WCTC. Graphic Design student Damien Hutchinson enjoyed the experience and said, “It was really fun for me, trying to find all the clues. I really got into the role of private investigator.”  

Explore CTE students found that guiding their fellow students through the escape room was a big part of the experience. Matthew Dimmitt, ninth-grader from Mount View observed that, “I think it’s cool to see people go through it and struggle with things we think are obvious. Learning how to wire stuff was cool and so was the secret door we made.”