AKRON, Ohio– A worldwide company is helping teachers at an Ohio High School find new ways to help students conquer math while developing a pipeline of students for STEM careers. 

  • Goodyear built escape rooms at the National Inventors Hall of Fame STEM Middle and STEM High School.
  • Students learn to conquer math while developing critical thinking and life skills
  • Math problems range from Algebra I to Geometry

"You are trapped inside of a Goodyear store. And you have the challenge of finding four tires, the ignition key to your car, and the code for the garage door to get out. You have 20 minutes." That's the scenario, and time limit three students at the National Inventors Hall of Fame STEM High School were given to uncover clues and get out of a locked room by solving math problems. The problems ranged from Algebra to Geometry. 

While being in an escape room can be nerve-wracking, Olivia Esposito says, working through tough problems is better than sitting in a classroom doing worksheets. "It's really hard to focus like; I don't really want to sit there and stare at a piece of paper. I'd rather you know, be able to have a conversation about it." Math teacher Ben Graber came up with the escape room idea while looking for ways to make math fun and not so intimidating.

So he called on Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. They teamed up with the school to bring math challenges to life and built an escape room for students. Since the escape room's been in place, Graber says it's changed the way his students approach math. "The ability to work together really helps them be able to solve math better. So I do the same thing in my classroom. I challenge them, okay work together, and don't just copy answers off each other; but find out how to use your strengths to help each other become better mathematicians. And not only are they becoming better mathematicians, Graber says, "I will say that every student that leaves my classroom is more confident than they were when they entered my classroom."

They're also becoming better critical thinkers, relying on one another, and learning what each other's strengths are, and are not, as they calculate and unlock clues. Olivia Esposito says she's learned that "Other people are good at some things that I could not be good at and like I could be good at things that other people are not. So like that really helped." Although this is meant to sharpen students' math skills, Goodyear official Ronda Williams says it's also preparing them for STEM careers. "We're developing. We're investing in the community and in students individually and really in a pipeline of technical talent."​

As that pipeline grows, tenth grader Santylea Wilson says the skills she's learning in the escape room, are also helping her to find better ways to handle situations involving friends and family. "Sometimes, I just gotta stop and think about it more. Think of the outcome of stuff." So the more thinking these teens do, the better off they are getting out of situations that may stump them in life and the classroom.

Officials from Goodyear say they're getting a chance to impact about 800 students each year, by having the escape rooms in the National Inventors Hall of Fame STEM Middle and STEM High School. Currently, there are only two schools in the state of Ohio, in which Goodyear has built escape rooms for and so far, the projects seem to be paying off.