stemread@gmail.com 148 N 3rd St, DeKalb, IL 60115

Quick Pick: Time Bomb by Joelle Charbonneau

Joelle Charbonneau’s Time Bomb and Escape Rooms Go Hand-in-Hand

By Hannah Carmack, Creative Content Coordinator

Time Bomb book cover

Pitched as The Breakfast Club meets Die HardJoelle Charbonneau’s Time Bomb focuses on a cluster of high school students from different “cliques” who find themselves working together when a domestic terrorist attack happens at their school.

Time Bomb’s entire story is told over the course of one day, so the narrative is detail heavy. Each character and their respective clique is fairly represented and explored in unexpected ways. Charbonneau also utilizes time stamps on each chapter head, which not only helps for clarity, but also lends itself to math and timed activities that could be done in the classroom, like a story-based math relay race in which students complete a series of equations under a time crunch.

For a more extensive activity, utilize Time Bomb’s action-packed prose and simulate a student-friendly escape room like the ones found on Breakout Edu. Have your students race against the clock to break free of the escape room, like the students in Time Bomb do as they navigate the dangerous terrain of a half-decimated high school. Add in an extra level of difficulty by introducing an engineering and first aid challenge in which someone is injured while attempting to “escape.” In order to save their teammate, the team must administer mock-first aid and then work together to design a device that could potentially carry their wounded teammate out of the room once they’ve solved it.

After students successfully complete their breakout, have them do an activity rich in deduction and critical thinking as they work together to solve the mystery of who or what caused the explosion that trapped them in the breakroom to begin with. This would require pre-class preparation as the instructor will need to determine whodunit and howdunit.

Please note that the book does cover sensitive topics. In this case, suicide, terrorism, and racism are addressed. Charbonneau encourages the reader to wonder how stereotypes can warp the way we view the world and what we can do to combat them. Overall, the book ends on a positive note and can easily be adapted for classroom use.

Time Bomb is an emotional YA novel with a strong base in STEM, and it lends itself perfectly to one explosively fun in-class activity. If you’re a fan of Charbonneau’s other works, check out STEM Read’s lesson plans on The Testing.