One parent recently wrote us a note suggesting that students should ditch summer screen time in favor of spending some quality time outdoors. Bravo! As a father of five young children, I could not agree more! Qualitative feedback from last year suggests that Brain Chase participants spend significantly fewer summer hours on television and video games than their peers (we’ll be gathering more information this year. Stay tuned…). But as this parent suggests, not all adventure learning can take place in front of a screen. That’s why Brain Chase incorporates three offline challenges into the program each summer.
These tasks involve high-quality pieces of hardware that arrive in the mail in three separate packages over the course of the five-week summer challenge. Each adventure tool is hand-wrapped, and includes a personal note from a member of the Grayson Academy of Antiquities explaining how the tool should be used. These Bonus Challenges are carefully developed in order to meet several criteria:
Offline Learning – First and foremost, we aim to balance student screen time with enriching offline projects that encourage kids to continue their adventure learning in the great outdoors. Tools like compasses, sundials, and decoder rings are enticing tangible manipulatives, and the application of each tool is only limited by the imagination of its bearer.
Story-Driven – Each bonus challenge is narratively integrated into the animated adventure, creating a need-to-know motivation for completing the task. Take last year’s compass challenge, for instance. During the hunt for the Globe of Magellan, Mae Merriweather and her team found themselves trapped in a cryptic hedge maze. Realizing they would need some orienteering assistance to get out, Mae sent a message to the “team at home” for help. During that week of the summer learning challenge, each Brain Chase participant received a brass compass in the mail, along with a puzzle to solve and specific instructions for how to do so. Once a student completed the exercise and typed in her correct answer, the video was unlocked, Mae Merriweather was able to solve the maze, and the student was able to continue her personal quest. Since participants can select their own reading, writing, math, and language challenges, the bonus challenges are the only academic components that tie directly into the animated storyline. And because the challenges directly assist Mae Merriweather, they serve as a weekly reminder that students are an integral part of a larger team – the Grayson Academy of Antiquities.
Subject Variety – Core subjects like reading, writing, math, and languages are clearly important, but there’s still so much left to learn! The weekly bonus challenges allow Brain Chase participants to get a taste of art, chemistry, physics, electrical engineering, music, coding, history, and much more. Last year’s challenges even included a botany challenge, where special seeds needed to be planted and cultivated in order to reveal a secret message.
Hidden Clues – Remember, anything is fair game with the Brian Chase treasure hunt. The weekly bonus challenges might teach important skills that could be helpful in locating the buried treasure. Or the projects might also hide critical clues themselves.
Enduring Fun – Yes, one of the co-founders of Brain Chase is an education expert. But the other is a toy developer! You won’t find any disposable, plastic toys here. The Brain Chase Bonus Projects are an extension of our brand. They are fun, durable, high-quality products that are designed to last for years to come.
So what’s in store for participants this summer? You didn’t really think we’d share all of our secrets, did you? But rest assured, the Brain Chase team has gone to great lengths to curate the perfect adventure learning tools, integrate them seamlessly into the storyline, and make sure that each student receives their packages at just the right moment.
See what last year’s participants had to say about the Brain Chase bonus challenges: