Mind A-Mazes



Forty-four registered teams with close to 200 students from fourth grade through high school competed in the KPBSD annual "Mind A-Mazes" meet on Saturday, October 15, 2016, at Soldotna Prep School. Teams came from all parts of the peninsula – Homer, Hope, Seward, Nikiski, Moose Pass, and the Central Peninsula.


This year's annual "Mind A-Mazes" challenge had teams exercise their communication, teamwork, engineering, and problem-solving skills while constructing and testing a vehicle powered solely by a single mousetrap. The annual challenge is made possible through the active participation of district Quest program (gifted education) teachers, as well as a host of other teachers, volunteers, and supporters. The "Rodent Racers" problem challenged team vehicles to travel a distance of 21 feet with accuracy and speed. If a team's device met all of the problem requirements and limitations and hit a can target at the end of a 21 foot lane (without going outside of a three foot wide lane), then it qualified for a second heat in which the speed at which it traveled the lane and hit the target were measured.

After working on their 'long-term' challenge for roughly five weeks, teams shared their devices with a panel of volunteer judges and proceeded to setup and trigger their device at the starting line of 'Rodent Racer' lanes marked on the gym floor of Soldotna Prep.



After all teams attempted the long-term challenge with their mousetrap vehicles, all teams then participated in a 'Spontaneous Challenge' which counted for 25% of their overall score. In the Spontaneous Challenge, teams were all provided the same set of materials, rules, and a time limit of 12 minutes to complete the problem to the best of their ability. For the spontaneous problem, teams constructed the tallest tower (with the provided materials) which had to support one weight which they selected, so the objective was not only a tall tower, but a strong enough tower to still support a weight near the top.


Whereas some students may pursue engineering careers as they get older, the majority of students and teachers who participate in programs such as Mind A-Mazes do so for other purposes. These objectives from Mind A-Mazes 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. Annual challenges and meets such as Mind A-Mazes enable students to tackle difficult problems with collaboration, determination, and a lot of testing!

Junior Division

  • 1st place – K-Beach Elementary "Caribou Creators"
  • 2nd place - Redoubt Elementary "Unicorn Poprocks"
  • 3rd place – K-Beach Elementary "The Speedsters"
  • Junior Spontaneous Challenge Winners - Seward Middle "Cheese Balls"
  • Junior Judges Choice Winners - Sterling Elementary "Rapid Racers"

Intermediate-Senior Division

  • 1st place - Hope School "Twenty-One Mice"
  • 2nd place - Kenai Middle "The Losers"
  • 3rd place - Kenai Middle "Rodents of Unusual Size (R.O.U.S.)"
  • Intermediate Spontaneous Challenge Winners (tie) - Kenai Middle "Muelloffatchews" and Homer Middle "The Huskies"
  • Intermediate Judges Choice Winners - Nikiski Middle/High "Vinyl Girls"

Thank you to all the students, parents, coaches, teachers, volunteers, judges and coordinators who made this year's meet such a wonderful experience for students!

Link: Mind a-Mazes Blog

Story contributed by Brian Bailey