This breakout box is designed to accompany The Crucible or history lessons on the Salem Witch Trials, but any school subject can try it out as a thinking activity. For instance, science can use this because of the research on ergot poisoning.
There are several theories about why the Salem Witch Trials occurred, but nobody knows the real truth. However, people were hanged in Salem even though the evidence didn't always match up. The premise for this activity is that the students have recently discovered an ancestor of theirs was the first person in Salem hanged for witchcraft. They want to know about her, and as they research, they see that the names of others executed for witchcraft have been cleared. Now, the students are on a mission to clear their ancestor's name.
This activity challenges students to consider possible reasons for the trials by examining the case of Bridget Bishop. In doing so, they consider the evidence for and against her. Students delve into articles and primary trial documents to solve clues that will open the lock box. If they open all of the locks, they will see a certificate indicating they have enough evidence to prove Bishop's name deserves to be exonerated. (Bishop's name was finally cleared in 2011, so this relates to today as well.)
(In actuality, you could have students solve the breakout clues without having any breakout boxes. Each clue has a picture of the lock they are trying to open along with the clues. Then, a sheet is included for students to write the code to each lock. Of course, the physical locks are more fun, but I definitely understand school funds are limited. This also works if you have only one lock box for the class to share, or several lock box sets for groups.)
Materials needed (pictures of materials are included):
3 digit lock
4 digit lock
5 letter alphabet lock
Box with a lockable clasp
coat (this will make sense in the instructions)
QR Code Reader
This lesson has step-by-step instructions, hint cards, and well-designed clues to engage your students and get them thinking critically.
This lesson could last anywhere from 60 minutes to 90 minutes depending on how you execute the plans.