Mind A-Mazes Competition: 51 KPBSD Teams


The annual KPBSD Mind A-Mazes challenge is oriented around an engineering problem and construction of a device which typically attempts to perform multiple tasks with consistency and accuracy, but the benefits of the challenge extend well beyond just engineering design. Communication skills and the ability to think outside the box collaboratively, while attempting to solve a variety of problems that arise are skills which many students develop while working on an intense challenge such as Mind A-Mazes. Whereas some teams find the engineering aspects to be the most challenging part of the project, other teams realize that the social dynamics involving working with others, listening to others viewpoints, and resolving differences amicably are the true challenges of Mind A-Mazes! It’s typically one of the challenges students enjoy the most each year, and coming to the competition to see all the various ways teams from around the peninsula approached the problem and perform under pressure is a highlight of each school year.

  • Facilitated by district gifted education Quest program, but open to all district students 4-12th grade who’re interested in forming a team and attempting the challenge
  • 51 teams registered for the district meet this year, from Homer, Seldovia, Kenai, Nikiski, Soldotna, K-Beach, Seward, Moose Pass, Sterling, Hope
  • Teams work on a long-term engineering challenge for approximately a month, and then also attempt a Spontaneous Challenge at the meet. The long-term device score counts as 75% of the total, with the Spontaneous score counting for the remaining 25% of the overall score.  
  • The long-term challenge this year consisted of building a device which could be calibrated to hit a target anywhere 1 meter to 11 meters away (meter increment targets, so 11 total possibly distances). The device needed to be triggered, fit within a 1 meter cubic starting area, and could only be powered by elastic solids (such as bungee cords, rubber bands, etc.) or gravity. Teams had only 1 chance to hit the first, randomly chosen target distance. Teams received points for hitting a piece of paper underneath the first target (which was a small gray school trash can), or for hitting the top or side of the trash can target. If they could get their small, rubber ball to land fully into the trash can target on their first attempt, then they could attempt a 2nd more distant target for bonus points.
  • The spontaneous challenge consisted of all teams getting the same set of materials and having 14 minutes to build their choice of structures from the provided materials. These structures then were stacked within a minute (required to stay up for at least 5 seconds) and the combined height and structure points total determined the spontaneous score for each team, as well as the Spontaneous ribbon winners.
  • In both divisions, ribbons were awarded to Spontaneous Challenge winners. Award plaques were awarded to the top 3 teams in each division (combined long-term results and spontaneous results), as well as a ‘Judges Choice’ winner in each division awarded to teams which demonstrated ingenuity and creative design in the creation of their catapult device.

2017 official results:  

Junior Division (4-6th):

  • 1st place overall– Seward Middle School
  • 2nd place overall– West Homer Elementary
  • 3rd place overall– Soldotna Elementary
  • Spontaneous Winner – K-Beach Elementary
  • Judges Choice – Nikiski North Star Elementary

Intermediate Division (7-12th):

  • 1st place overall – Hope School
  • 2nd place overall– Nikiski Middle/High
  • 3rd place overall –Seward Middle
  • Spontaneous Winner – Hope School
  • Judges Choice – Kenai Middle School

Thank you to all the coaches, volunteers, judges, and everyone who helps make the Mind aMazes so much fun every year!

More than 70 photos are posted on KPBSD Facebook

Story submitted by Brian Bailey, organizer