2013 Mind aMazes Competition

“I view the Mind a-Mazes event competition as one of the district’s most exciting events of the year. The student teams’ creative problem solving is impressive. Equally impressive is how well the students work with their coach to find solutions to the stated problem. If you have never seen the event, make a plan to attend next year.” – Dr. Steve Atwater, Superintendent

Forty-seven teams of students in grades 4 through 12 from eighteen schools registered for the annual Mind a-Mazes, a KPBSD hands-on problem solving competition sponsored by the Quest program.*  Mind a-Mazes is a district-wide competition which took place Saturday, October 12, 2013, at Soldotna Middle School.

“One of the things I like best about Mind a-Mazes is that there is no correct way to solve the Long Term problem. There are Rules and Limitations that must be followed, but there is no answer key at the back of a book that can be flipped to for the “right answer.” Creative thinking is promoted, encouraged and necessary,” said Gail Moore, organizer of annual Mind a-Mazes competition. “The problems are challenging by design. This provides participants with opportunities to practice handling both successes and failures as they work to solve the problem to the best of their ability. ‘Just do the best that you can!’ The students need to use trial and error while testing their designs. It’s all about paying attention to what works and what doesn’t work, and then deciding what to do about it … all while working closely with 3-4 other team members! As the competition date nears, teams are encouraged to think about the difference between “being lucky” and “being prepared.” Working hard to solve a difficult problem just might help participants understand that perseverance and effort can make the difference.”

Mind a-Mazes encourages team work, research, and creative problem solving. Teams of three to five students work with an adult coach for several weeks to solve the common Long Term Problem. Two divisions—junior division (4-6th grade) and intermediate/senior division (7-12th grade)—compete. In addition to the Long Term Problem, a Spontaneous Problem is given to teams during the competition.

2013 Long Term problem – Ups and Downs
“Teams of three to five students will create a device that raises a weight a minimum height of one (1) meter. The weight should then descend exactly one (1) meter in height. The descent should take as close to two (2) minutes as possible. The device/weight will make a sound as the weight reaches the apex (top; high point). The device/weight will trigger an “event” when the weight concludes its descent.”

The Salty Nuts, 1st place winners in the Junior Division
 “Groans of anguish and despair broke out when The Salty Nuts’ device stalled during the school wide assembly at Seward Elementary school,” said Augusta Lind, a coach and volunteer. “Team members, Max Pfeiffenberger, Jaden VanDyke, Trey Ingalls, John Moriarty, Neil Lindquist, and Tommy Cronin had worked long hours to create a working device for the Mind-a-Mazes district competition qualifying round. The team had gone through some changes, such as the addition of member, Neil Lindquist, after his original team members dropped out of the challenge, and worked through some major difficulties, for example getting together outside of school to work on the device. Though their device stalled, The Salty Nuts earned enough points to go on to the district competition. This experience spurred team members to refine their device. The Salty Nuts’ perseverance paid off. Cheers and applause met the team at the district wide competition where they earned a perfect score for the long term problem!”

Mind a-Mazes 2013 – Winning Teams

Junior Division
1st place – Seward Elementary
Coach: Agusta Lind
Salty Nuts
Max Pfeiffenberger
Tommy Cronin
Jaden VanDyke
Trey Ingalls
John Moriarty
Neil Lindquist

2nd Place – Seward Elementary
Coach: Agusta Lind
Sugar Trees
Connor Spanos
Clay Petersen
Collin Mullaly
Justin McMurray
Joshua Park

3rd Place – Redoubt Elementary
Coach: Trent O’Reagan
The Breaking Jolly Ranchers                                                                  
Chaz Bird
Trenton O’Reagan
Ricardo Rincon
Zachary Ulrich

Spontaneous – Fireweed
Coach: Abe Abrahamson
Mose Hayes
Ian Brant
Zak Wylde
Tyler Gilliland

Judges Choice – McNeil Canyon
Coaches: Karen Weston & Melon Purcell
Exploding Elephants
Fiona Hatton
Matfey Reutov
Phin Weston
Kira Milne
Mariah McGuire
Int. /Sr. Division

1st place – Nikiski Middle
Coach: Brian Bailey
This Side Up
Jamie Yerkes
Melanie Sexton
Sarah Nash
Aaron McCollum

2nd Place – Hope
Coach: Agusta Lind & Sandra Barron
Hope Pulley Pullers
Liam Bureau
River Skaaren

3rd Place – Chapman
Coach: Jon Crocker & Karen Weston
Shelly Johnson
Julianna Johnson
Kyle Wells
Caleb Holschen

Spontaneous – Nikiski Middle
Coach: Brian Bailey
This Side Up
Jamie Yerkes
Melanie Sexton
Sarah Nash                                                                                                        
Aaron McCollum

Judges Choice – Nikiski Middle
Coach: Brian Bailey
Krazy Cangaroos
Thomas Halliday
John Bright
Gabriel Smith

Creative Use of Duct Tape Award - Hope
Coach: Agusta Lind & Sandra Barron
Andrew Bishop
Cody Fortin
Alex Schell
Ryder Skaaren
Coaches are a combination of staff and parent volunteers. There are many ways to get involved in Mind a-Mazes. Some classroom teachers open it to their entire class; others share the information for students to do on their own (find their own coach, etc.). Some Quest teachers do the problem with their groups of Quest student or other students in the schools that they serve. Originally, Mind a-Mazes was designed for the Quest (KPBSD gifted and talented program) students in the school district and the competition was run for those students. For approximately ten years it has been open to any KPBSD student in grades 4-12.

Judges were a combination this year of certified staff (who volunteered to work on a Saturday) and volunteers from the community. This year four certified staff and four volunteers participated. Former Quest students act as judges from time to time. They love coming back and being on “the other side of the competition!”

Thank you to judges and volunteers:

  • Long Term Problem Judges
  • Brian Bailey – Head Judge
  • Karen Weston – Head Judge
  • Mayme Grant
  • Jean Dixon
  • Erica Chilla
  • Rand Seaton
  • Nicki Schmitt
  • Quinn Stoops
  • Lorena Knapp
  • Judge’s Choice – Agusta Lind
  • Registration – Suzanne Haines, Agusta Lind, Kristin Cannava, Bobbie Baldwin
  • MC - Marc Berezin
  • Scoring - Leslie Morton

Thank you to SMS principal Sarge Truesdell and assistant principal Curt Schmidt for offering the space at Soldotna Middle School.

Thank you to Cynthia Romberg, Cathleen Rolph, Bobbie Baldwin, and Brian Bailey for helping to set up on Friday night. And special thanks to SMS custodians Alex, Greg, Ron and Bob. We truly appreciate the help they provided before, during and after Mind a-Mazes.

*The Quest program is an instructional program for gifted and talented students, and is based on the principle that all students are to receive an education appropriate to their individual capabilities, interests, and needs, and should be provided with learning opportunities that help develop student abilities to the highest level. Gifted and talented students generally demonstrate high performance or capacity for high performance beyond age or grade expectations. They are atypical learners who require specialized learning experiences beyond the regular curriculum.

Long Term Problem
Mind a-Mazes Blog

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