Why ‘Thinking Outside the Box’? An Origin Story

I am often asked “why did you choose the name ‘Thinking Outside the Box’ for your escape room company?” It might be interesting to know this was not the original choice. Over the past three years and through these three little blog posts, discover the origins and set up of Peterborough’s City Centre Escape Rooms.

The company was started by myself, Jason from the little town of Southend on Sea. You might wonder how I came to stray far from Essex; that is a long story for another time. I came to Peterborough to teach Primary children. I had always had a love of puzzles and during my time teaching would try some puzzles on the children to get them thinking, like this logical brain teaser:

‘ Mary’s mother had 4 daughters, April, May, June, what was the name of the fourth daughter?’

You might think this was too logical for children to guess, but it was very engaging, introducing many combinations of answers that they had to prove were correct. Many got it wrong but that’s not the point. When you couple this with a logical maths question afterwards, it is amazing the response you receive due to the fact that now they have read the question properly this time and most work out the answer straight away.

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My class would love to be given a puzzle and so I started to put my hobby of woodwork and my passion for puzzles together. Problem solving can be a pain to teach as it usually involves written numbers and normally a two step process to complete them, which can bore children very quickly. I was aiming to engage children with mathematics without them knowing it. So was born the first box I ever made; a puzzle with 4 cubes and combination lock sealing the insides.

The idea of a ‘treasure’ box that you have to work out completely immersed the children into trying to solve it. It was like they had become a mini Indiana Jones. The box involves some trial and error of trying to work out the pattern but also they needed the correct colour to open the lock. One lesson the box teaches is to stand back and actually look at the whole problem because if you notice it, a clue is given.

Due to the popularity of the first box I decided to make another to think about a different problem; this was a link to shapes and involved a box within a box. Both involved knowledge of shapes to solve it but through two different methods. This box was a blast with the children in class. So once the holidays came around I started creating more and more boxes. With each new puzzle, a different method, style and technique was used to solve a mathematical problem. This started to generate the first part of the company name, ‘Thinking Outside the Box,’ because that is what is happening, you are actually ‘thinking’ on the outside of the box! (Let out a sigh of disbelief here.)

Then something happened that changed the way I thought about these puzzles and the original name for a while.

Keep watching the blog posts for updates and news, and the next part of the 'Thinking Outside The Box' origins story. Check out our escape rooms at www.peterboroughescaperooms.co.uk.

PS. The name of the fourth daughter was ‘Mary.’ Read it again slowly and you will realise the answer is there all along.