Mind A-Mazes


Twenty KPBSD schools sent forty-four teams to participate in the annual Mind A-Mazes Problem Solving Competition sponsored by KPBSD's Quest Program. This year's district-wide event took place at Soldotna Prep School. Teams tackled long-term problems and spontaneous problems. 

Top placing teams:

Junior Division  

  • Spontaneous Challenge – “District 12 Los Locos” Fireweed Academy
  • Judges Choice – “Nenonobo” Fireweed Academy
  • 3rd Overall – “Driven to Win” Tustumena Elementary
  • 2nd Overall – “Cheese Balls” Nikiski Middle
  • 1st Overall – “Violet Variables” Seward Middle

Intermediate-Senior Division  

  • Spontaneous Challenge – “No Friction” Hope School & “Smarticle Particles” Kenai Middle
  • Judges Choice – “Losers Winners” Hope School
  • 3rd Overall – “Neon Wolves” Kenai Middle
  • 2nd Overall – “Smarticle Particles” Kenai Middle
  • 1st Overall – “No Friction” Hope School

“One of the main principles I emphasize with students is that we’re not doing Mind A-Mazes to teach everyone to be engineers,” said Brian Bailey, organizer. “Out of all the students who participate each year, few students will likely end up pursuing an engineering career. The goals of the challenge include giving students opportunities to work together on a difficult challenge while working on their communication, problem-solving, and teamwork skills. When they grow to be adults, students can use the planning, listening, compromising, problem solving, and team work skills, practiced through challenges such as Mind A-Mazes, in practically any career or endeavor they pursue. Students grow as individuals when they learn to work with others who have differing opinions, deal appropriately with stress and frustration when things aren’t going as planned, and realize that communication is a cornerstone of any group’s success. Any team of students who even get to the level of bringing a device and participating in a Mind A-Mazes district meet have accomplished a great deal and are usually eager to come back and try next year’s challenge!” 

Hope School student, River Skaaren, writes, “Mind A-Mazes is a program that our school attended this year. The challenge this year was a KPBSD problem-solving competition sponsored by Quest. The long-term problem is different every year. This year it was to create a device that was able to carry a 1.25 ounce hex nut down a four foot wide lane. The device had to be able to utilize wind power in a way that will make it go as far as it can down the lane. It had to be touching the ground the whole time, and cannot be animal powered or human powered. Once the device leaves the lane, the judges will mark the place that the device leaves. The device starts two feet from a 120V floor fan. (Lasko Brand 20 inch by 20 inch from Trust Worthy Hardware) set on the highest speed.


The spontaneous problem is random every year until the competition and then everyone gets the supplies. This year we were supposed to make a rope that would drag one of four weighted Folgers cans. We could only have one member from our Team to go see how heavy the cans were. The first one was the lightest and the fourth one was the heaviest. The supplies to make the rope were two index cards, two paperclips, one paper bag, two yellow name tag stickers, one twist tie, and a bendy straw.
Mind A-Mazes was at Soldotna Prep School on Saturday, October 11, 2014. Three to four teams were allowed from each school. Our school had four teams so we did not have a pre-competition. To actually get in to the real competition I am glad we did not have to do that! It would have made it a lot harder to get in the competition.

Our school won first in the intermediate senior division. Our other team received the judge’s choice for the intermediate senior division. We also tied for the spontaneous problem; and it was really exciting to get first. Now that we won this year our schools won three years in a row. We are planning on winning next year.”

Thank you to all the volunteers, teams, judges, Soldotna Prep School, and everyone who offers encouragement and support for this excellent event!

Mind a-Mazes Blog