Hack Your Brain: Free Online Science Escape Room For Kids

Unlock kids’ brain power with a free online neuroscience escape room, exciting puzzles, hands-on experiments, and live expert Q&As.


A young scientist is a labcoat tinkers with a robot in a lab. Around them are puzzles, tools, VR goggles, neuroscience equipment including a giant brain.
Credit: Joy Ho

Este recurso está disponible en español. This resource is available in Spanish.

Ever wonder what goes on inside your head? Now’s your chance to delve deep into the workings of the brain and discover its secrets. Because understanding your mind isn’t just interesting—it’s the key to a happier, healthier life!

In April 2024, Science Friday, in partnership with the Dana Foundation, is launching a new FREE program to unlock your brain’s secrets!

Custom-designed for the curious and adventurous spirits of middle-schoolers, Hack Your Brain is an anywhere, anytime program for everyone, regardless of prior knowledge of neuroscience. With our online program, you get to chart your own path to discovery—on your own schedule, in your own way, wherever you want.

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Prepare to be swept away into a world of discovery as you unlock the mysteries of the mind in the Hack Your Brain online escape room adventure! With each day, a new chapter unfolds, packed with hands-on investigations and brain-teasing challenges. Immerse yourself in the captivating story of a young scientist and robot, paired with thought-provoking educational resources that will expand your understanding of neuroscience in an engaging and interactive way.

Below is a description of what you’ll learn through Hack Your Brain activities. You can also download the Hack Your Brain booklet in English or Spanish, print a one-page planner in English or Spanish, or sign up for the Hack Your Brain newsletter to receive a daily email with all the fun. If you get stuck, there are hints and solutions available in English and Spanish.

A young scientist uses tools to work on a robot's brain while it reads a story book.

🧠 A Robot’s Story: Teaching Clipbot About The Human Brain
START HERE! Embark on a journey with a young scientist and their curious robot as they explore the brain through exciting challenges and puzzles. Prefer to be offline? Print the adventure in booklet form.)

Start Your Adventure

A young person sweats as they jump rope while a happy robot dances to music.

💪 Discover How Your Brain Builds Muscle Memory
Investigate the brain’s ability to coordinate movement, develop motor skills, and create muscle memories. Materials needed: a jump rope (or equivalent), printable grid and cards (download included), paperclips (optional).

Solve Puzzle 1

A young scientist sits next to a robot as they meditate and listen to music.

😨 Train Your Brain To Manage Stress
Discover brain-based approaches to develop resilience, manage stress, and cultivate a positive mindset. Materials needed: a set of Jacks (or equivalent), printable cards (download included), either red film or a mirror.

Solve Puzzle 2

A young scientist motions toward a white board filled with complex information as a confused robot watches.

💤 Boost Memory And Learning With The Science Of Sleep
Discover how getting enough quality sleep is essential for transforming new knowledge into lasting memories. Materials needed: a dry kitchen sponge, a measuring cup, water, printable puzzle (download included).

Solve Puzzle 3

A young scientist thinks of an image of the brain while the robot tries to draw a picture of a brain.

🐿️ Think Like A Squirrel: Nature’s Spatial Memory Expert
Discover how observing animals’ remarkable memory abilities can teach you about spatial memory and the brain’s incredible adaptability. Materials needed: copy paper, pens, pencils or markers, printable maze (download included), two small magnets. 

Solve Puzzle 4

A young scientist drops their phone, and a robot reaches to catch it.

🎯 Hack Your Brain To Increase Focus And Attention
Explore mindfulness techniques that will sharpen your focus, improve your attention span, and enhance your ability to concentrate. Materials needed: ruler, previous puzzles.

Solve Puzzle 5

A young scientist and a robot smile as they give each other a high five.

🏆 Rewards And Neurotransmitters: How Games Can Affect Your Brain
Discover the ways reward systems like games, puzzles, and escape rooms can encourage positive or negative behaviors. Includes four great Community Science projects you can join today.

Do Science!

These educational resources are tailor-made for learners aged 10-14 but can be adapted as needed to different ages. Designed to captivate young minds, each resource features a quick 15-minute hands-on activity alongside brain-teasing puzzles. Extend the learning experience with supplementary videos and background information. Plus, for educators, we’ve crafted presentations for seamless classroom integration, complemented by quiz questions, and aligned with NGSS MS-LS1-8: From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes standards. Planning now? Read the Hack Your Brain Facilitator’s Guide.

Got questions? Need disability or language accommodations? Send us an email at educate@sciencefriday.com.

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A cheery cartoon-style brain smiles and holds a magnifying glass. The text reads Hack Your Brain Fun For Everyone STEM Nights
Credit: Sandy Roberts in Canva

Hack Your Brain Live Online Events

In honor Brian Awareness Week and Hack Your Brain, Science Friday hosted a series of live online “Weekly Fun For Everyon STEM Nights” featuring trivia, hands-on activities, projects, and the opportunity to ask questions of scientists and experts in the field of neuroscience. Each aligns with one of the educational resources above.

🏃 Hack Your Brain: Move It
Monday, March 11, 7 pm ET / 4 pm PT
Lace-up your sneakers and get ready to move! Explore the incredible connection between your brain and body as you tackle exciting—and somewhat silly—physical challenges. From dancing to running, discover how your brain powers every move you make! Featuring special guest Rebecca McCune, a neuroscientist at Baruch College’s Dynamic Learning Lab and clinical research coordinator at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Watch the recording. | Try the trivia.| Download the Presentation

Hack Your Brain: Under Pressure
Monday, March 18, 4 pm ET / 1 pm PT
Feeling stressed? Don’t worry! Dive into the science behind stress and learn effective coping strategies to conquer any challenge. Whether it’s a big game, your first performance, or an important test, unlock the secrets to keeping calm under pressure. Featuring special guest Dr. Ramesh Raghupathi, Professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy at Drexel University College of Medicine. Watch the recording. | Try the trivia. | Download the Presentation

🧐 Hack Your Brain: Making Memories
Monday, March 25, 7 pm ET / 4 pm PT
Put your memory to the test with mind-bending games and puzzles! See just how powerful your brain truly is as you sharpen your recall skills and uncover the secrets of memory formation. How good is your memory? Let’s find out! Featuring special guest Dr. Rae Nishi former Director of the Neuroscience, Behavior, and Health Transdisciplinary Research Initiative at the University of Vermont and member of the Public Education and Communication Committee of the Society for Neuroscience. Watch the recording. | Try the trivia.| Download the Presentation

💡 Hack Your Brain: No Problem
Monday, April 1, 4 pm ET / 1 pm PT
Are you a master problem solver? Discover how your mind helps you adapt to changes and overcome obstacles. Plus, put your skills to the test as you tackle challenges with the help of your clever brain. Featuring special guest Dr. Nicola Grissom, an Associate Professor in the Psychology Department at the University of Minnesota. Watch the recording. | Try the trivia.| Download the Presentation

👀 Hack Your Brain: Pay Attention
Monday, April 15, 7 pm ET / 4 pm PT
How observant are you? Sharpen your senses and fine-tune your attention to detail as you explore the fascinating world of human perception. Join us and discover what you may be missing! Featuring special guest Dr. Cheryl Olman, a Professor in the Psychology Department at the University of Minnesota. Watch the recording. | Try the trivia.| Download the Presentation

🔍 Hack Your Brain: You’re the Scientist!
Thursday, April 25, 8 pm ET / 5 pm PT
Dive into the thrilling world of neuroscience with our upcoming webinar with SciStarter and Citizen Science Month! Join groundbreaking projects like Neureka, where you can play games and share your feelings to understand mental health evolution, and the Online Memory Training Study, where you’ll engage in memory-boosting exercises and cognitive tests from home. Be a part of cutting-edge research and uncover the mysteries of the brain. Sign up now and contribute to exciting scientific discoveries! Watch the Recording! | Join a Project | Download the Presentation

Got questions? Need disability or language accommodations? Send us an email at educate@sciencefriday.com.

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Dana Foundation Logo

Special thanks to the Dana Foundation for funding Hack Your Brain.

The Hack Your Brain team includes Sandy Roberts, Svea Anderson, Lucas Leprince, Daisy Reyes, Sheeva Azma, Jordan Smoczyk, Ariel Zych, Lois Parshley, Joy Ho, Fai Kosciolek, Cuentero Productions, Santiago Flórez, Robin Kazmier, Teak & Twine, and the amazing brains at the Science Friday Initiative.

Meet the Writers

About Sandy Roberts

Sandy Roberts is Science Friday’s Education Program Manager, where she creates learning resources and experiences to advance STEM equity in all learning environments. Lately, she’s been playing with origami circuits and trying to perfect a gluten-free sourdough recipe.

About Svea Anderson

Svea Anderson is a twenty-year veteran educator who never hesitates to step out of her comfort zone and try something new. She enjoys a challenge and never passes up an opportunity to learn something new.

About Daisy Reyes

Daisy Reyes is a Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience PhD student at the Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY).

About Lucas Leprince

Lucas Leprince is a game designer who enjoys creating unique moments of realization and challenge.

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