Mind a-Mazes 2012 – Curiosity: On Mars!


On October 13, 2012, students from fifteen KPBSD schools had an opportunity to work together collaboratively to solve a common challenge, involving the contribution and exchange of ideas, knowledge or resources to achieve a goal. Schools competed at their own schools to determine who would compete at Soldotna Middle School, during the 2012 Mind a-Mazes competition, Curiosity: On Mars!

Student teams create a land rover-type device, which is designed to travel along a 30 foot course in the KPBSD version of Gale Crater on the surface of Mars. The course involved several obstacles to negotiate. Students were also required to design and create a Space Colony which needed to be placed at the finish line of the course.


This 2012 Mind a-Mazes Long Term problem encouraged student teams to not only design and build a land rover type vehicle and space colony, but also to learn about and be inspired by the Mars Rover Curiosity that has been exploring the planet Mars since August 6, 2012. The obstacles on the Soldotna Middle School course were named for specific sites on Mars: “Mount Sharp” (a mountain on Mars almost as high as Alaska’s own Denali) was represented by a ramp 4 feet wide by 2 feet long by 6 inches high; “Glenelg” (an area on Mars marked by a natural intersection of three kinds of terrain) was represented by red corrugated cardboard 4 feet wide by 2 feet long; and the Martian Rocks were three pound coffee cans filled with kitty litter.


Approximately 150 students from the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District representing fifteen schools participated in this annual event held at Soldotna Middle School. There are two main parts to the competition: the Long Term Problem and the Spontaneous Problem. This year’s Spontaneous Problem required teams to create and use the longest marker using a variety of materials provided to them (straws, craft sticks, rubber bands, and so forth) in a paper bag. 

Thank you to everyone who volunteered and participated, especially the coaches and judges. A special thank you to Matt Widaman and the KPBSD Work Force Development Center in Kenai for designing and building the ramps for the competition, and to Kaladi Brothers for providing coffee for the Judges Training on Saturday morning.

Congratulations to the winners!


Junior Division

1st place – Sterling Elementary/Tustumena Elementary – Coach Linda McConnell

“The BJ Attackers”

  • Jacob McConnell
  • Joseph Reutov
  • Bryan Rutherford
  • Hannan McMullen 


2nd place and Judges’ Choice – West Homer – Coach Nadya Klingel

“Curiosity Killed the Cat”

  • Willem Strydom
  • Wynand Strydom
  • Taylor Carlos
  • Henry Russell


3rd place - Soldotna Elementary – Coaches Kristin Cannava and Ellen Adlam

“Rockin’ Rovers”

  • Austin Adlam
  • Olivia Davis
  • Ryder Giesler
  • Josh Pieh
  • Colton Sorhus

Spontaneous Award - Fireweed Academy – Coach Darius Kleine

“Caution Rat Trap Snap Dot Dot Dot Duck”

  • Solstice Kraszeski
  • Alden Ross
  • Connor Roderick
  • Tyler Gilliland 


Space Colony Award – Soldotna Montessori – Coach Gail Moore

“The Employees”

  • Ethan Evans
  • Porter Evans
  • Ben Snow
  • Cy Updike


Intermediate/Senior Division

1st place and Spontaneous Award – Kenai Middle School – Coach Cynthia Romberg

“Dumbledore’s Army”

  • Eric Kempf
  • Patrick Michels
  • Drake Thomas
  • Dai-Ana Smith
  • Kameron Brazell


2nd place – Kenai Middle School – Coach Cynthia Romberg

“The Meteor Dracons”

  • Jacob Anderson
  • Kameron Maxie
  • Ithaca Bergholtz
  • Maria Salzetti

3rd place – Nikiski Middle/High – Coach Brian Bailey

 “Duct Tape Girls”

  • Jamie Yerkes
  • Sarah Nash
  • Melanie Sexton


Judges’ Choice – Nikiski Middle/High – Coach Brian Bailey

“Working Junk”

  • Braden Ellis
  • Lochlan Quiner
  • Aaron McCollum


2nd Spontaneous Award – Soldotna Middle/River City Academy – Coaches Julie Shuler/Connie Ferguson


  • Hans Hesse
  • Ethan Bott
  • Josh Shuler
  • Jode Sparks


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